Skate park ‘safe space’ reopens after Covid closure
IPSWICH youngsters entangled in the justice system, facing homelessness and even those just needing support may find relief at a nearby “safe space”.
Based just east of Ipswich at an Inala skate park, youth space the Hut has relaunched after Covid restrictions forced it to shut early in 2020.
Inspire Youth and Family Services CEO Lisa Evans said the organisation was launched in 1986 to tackle lack of accommodation options and support services for local youths.
She said the Hut was later born to address a gap in early intervention through activities such as mural painting, live DJ workshops, skateboarding and basketball.
“To add to the developmental challenges commonly experienced in adolescence, many of the young people we work with are from families struggling to cope with systemic social disadvantage,” Ms Evans said.
“These underlying issues can present as school disengagement, homelessness, social disconnection and criminal behaviours.”
As the Hut provided a “soft entry point” to other support services offered by Inspire Youth and Family Services, its closure meant youths were no longer able to turn up or find help as easily.
“The Hut provides a really safe space for young people to go and connect with youth workers and other support workers,” Ms Evans said.
“Having to close that space in combination with young people not being able to get out and about was challenging.”
An Ipswich young person who found himself on the wrong side of the law began turning his life around after working with IYS.
“There was a young man who was quite heavily involved in youth justice and some really high risk behaviours,” Ms Evans said.
“We worked with him and found he really liked art and was quite creative.”
IYS connected the boy with a therapeutic artist and, as part of his community service, he was able to work on a decorative screen in a community space.
“That enabled him to feel valued and respected and a part of that office environment,” Ms Evans said.
“Following that normalising experience, he went back to school and he stopped offending.”
After relaunching in April, the Hut has only been able to operate at less than half its former capacity.
“It’s open every fortnight on a Wednesday but previously we were able to open every Wednesday and Thursday,” Ms Evans said.
“It’s tricky to hold it fortnightly and the sooner we can have it operating more regularly, the better.”
IYS is holding a fundraising campaign to expand the Hut’s operating hours.
“Ideally, the Hut would be open every day – offering that drop in safe space for young people would be amazing and that’s sort of what we’re trying to aim for,” Ms Evans said.
To donate to the fundraiser, visit iys.org.au/donate.
The Hut is open this Wednesday at the D.J. Sherrington Park in Inala from 3pm until 4.30pm.
To contact the Hut or check opening hours, call 33722655 or message the Hut on Facebook.
Read more news by Ebony Graveur.