Many will have seen John Prockter doing a great job as compere at the highly successful Christmas lights switch on in Bridgnorth. What many won’t know is that John is the newly appointed Youth and Schools Worker – the first time Bridgnorth has had anyone in this role. He is also the manager of The Bridge Youth Centre in Whitburn Street. Editor Sally Themans went to meet John and find out more about this facility for young people and what plans he has for the future.
Tucked away behind the vets on Whitburn Street, the Bridge Youth Centre was a bit of a revelation; a large and vibrant multi-level space complete with gaming area, a snack bar, table tennis, pool table and plenty of areas for ‘chilling’. And at its hub is John Prockter, recently arrived from Devon and full of zeal and enthusiasm for the challenge ahead:
“My passion is working with young people. I love the look when a youngster realises that you’re committed to them.”
The Bridge Trust was set up 18 years ago by a local visionary couple, Dave and Jo Treby, who wanted to provide a safe place for teenagers and young people to go and ‘be themselves’. The legacy has grown to the extent that the Trust, together with various grants and local churches, can now support a dedicated youth worker who is backed by a team of volunteers and staff. John continues; “An amazing host of volunteers are here every Friday evening, providing support and acting as great role models who are really interested in the development of individuals.” John hopes to be able to extend the opening hours of The Bridge to include after school facilities.
The venue is also being used for development courses. John will be running courses on personal development for youngsters from Oldbury Wells School and is currently conducting a survey of 900 young people in the area (of which he is about half way through) in order to see what sorts of projects would be best suited to the area. John is the first to admit that the results are unsettling – revealing higher than average feelings of negativity and low selfesteem about themselves and particularly about their future prospects. With this information and feedback, John is in a much better place to work closely with the schools to provide more focused encouragement to help young people have greater control over their lives. “I offer support with spiritual awareness, a programme of assemblies with a Christian theme and I assist the RE departments in both schools” he said.
“It’s all about being available and being there to listen. The young people in Bridgnorth are brilliant, they have been so honest and self-aware in their answers. They’re ready to be inspired and full of potential.”
The Bridge Volunteer Youth Centre is open 7.30pm – 10pm on Friday evenings and is aimed predominantly at those in the 13-16 age groups.