July 23 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Teenagers have given two graffiti-daubed bus shelters in North Walsham a colourful makeover.
Instead of sitting among scrawled names and obscenities, passengers using the New Road and Park Lane bus shelters can now enjoy learning about the town’s history in words and pictures against a background of cool blue or mellow yellow.
The transformations are the work of 15 young people who have all just finished a four-week National Citizen Service (NCS) project.
The government-funded scheme aims to give school leavers new skills and the chance to help their communities.
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb praised the teenagers’ efforts when he visited the shelters yesterday.
The group spent one week taking part in outdoor activities at an Essex residential centre, two weeks planning their community project at Easton College and one week in North Walsham, carrying out their ideas with paintbrushes and paintpots using the town council chamber as their base.
“It’s very impressive. The whole scheme is brilliant - getting youngsters to have a go at things they may never have done. It makes them realise that they can play a real part in improving their town,” said Mr Lamb.
Nicholas Moolchan, 16, from Harvey Drive, North Walsham, said they had used Google maps on computers to look closely at the town and had seen that the shelters were run down.
They had then interviewed people in the street, asking how they would like to see them improved.
“They said they should be bright and they wanted something about the town’s history - the church, the fire in 1600, Nelson, and we also brought it up to date with The Atrium,” said Nicholas.
One passer-by had thought they themselves were vandals when she saw them painting but had apologised when she learned the truth.
Another person had given NCS team leader Mark Woodcock £10 to buy all the youngsters a refreshing drink.
“They were getting great feedback from the public who were really encouraging them when they realised they were doing something for the community,” said Mr Woodcock.
Robyn Brown, 16, of Melbourne Road, North Walsham, said the experience had made her want to take part in more community projects and she also hoped the skills she had learned would help her job prospects in the future.
Darren Hunter, NCS co-ordinator, said the scheme, run in the county for the past three years by the Norwich City Community Sports Foundation, was becoming increasingly popular and this year, as last, places were oversubscribed.
By the end of the year 550-600 young people across the county would have benefited from taking part. The certificated scheme also helped them with their later university applications as it was recognised by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, UCAS.