Problems facing families in east Preston have been laid bare in a new report.
Fusion Youth and Community UK, a Christian youth organisation, carried of a survey of the community needs in the Fishwick, St Matthew’s and Ribbleton areas, in a bid to inspire youngsters.
The findings revealed:
n Ribbleton is in the top 5 per cent of most impoverished areas in the country. St Matthew’s and Fishwick wards are in the top 10 per cent.
n 25 to 30 per cent of young people in East Preston’s social housing have no access to broadband Internet at home.
n 20 per cent of children in the St Matthew’s ward are clinically obese, and a further 15 per cent are overweight.
n Unemployment in Ribbleton is 9.3 per cent, against a Preston average of 3.7 per cent.
n Parents said Ribbleton Park was “dangerous” and did not allow their children to play there.
n New Hall Lane and Blackpool Road were seen as “run down”.
Dan Evenhuis of Fusion said: “When you look at young people, you must look at the community they grow up in.
“There are people in this area that are the third generation living of social benefits, and how to we inspire them?”
A list of recommendations to improve the area were presented at a meeting yesterday.
They included setting up a youth club and social enterprise at St Matthew’s Mission in Acregate Lane, launching a video arts project for young people to star in and produce, establishing a community forum, and recruiting volunteers to act as positive role models for youngsters.
Fusion also called on Preston Council to improve street lighting, to employ a warden for Ribbleton Park, to bring two youth workers into the St Matthew’s area.
It also wants to see more police patrols in residential streets.
Report author Andy Prosser said: “Our hope this that this document provides inspiration and encouragement as to a way forward in knitting the communities of East Preston together even more strongly.”
St Matthew’s Coun Veronica Afrin raised concerns about the recommendations.
She said: “I’m grateful that this report has been compiled, but I’m very concerned that the ideas recommended will split the community.
“This is a Christian report, but the strength of our community is multiculturalism.
“We all need to work together, and we embrace social cohesion.
“The author hasn’t spoken to the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Sanskrit communities who all share concerns in the area.”
Greg Smith of Together Lancashire, a Christian organisation aimed at tackling poverty, said: “It strikes me as great vision, but the difficult thing now to do is to turn this into a programme of activities.
“We need a business plan.”