Ivybridge Police have complimented The Bridge Project in the town as ‘a really good asset to the community’.
The Bridge is a project of Ivybridge Youth For Christ.
Elis explained: ‘‘There was a similar project running in Kingsbridge and we started small with a gazebo supplied by the Community Safety Partnership that we used to take up to the skate park.
‘‘We were then given a red bus from the Salvation Army and then a bigger one which we decked out as a party bus with flashing lights. This is still being used in South Brent.
‘‘We then managed to secure some funding from the Town, District and County councils and moved into The Bridge which is the Ivybridge youth venue and community centre.
There are two sessions every Friday night. The first is for school years 6, 7 and 8 between 6.30pm and 8pm then year 9 and above between 8.30pm and 10pm.
Elis added:‘‘ It’s basically a drop-in youth cafe.
‘‘There are comfortable sofas, an X Box, a new pool table, table tennis, table football, board games and more.
‘‘We are a Christian organisation and people can see that from our uniforms and logos we’re not pushing that aspect, it would be up to the young person to ask to join one of our other groups if they were interested in finding out more about God’s love.
‘‘We have a good relationship with the police who drop by occasionally to see that everything’s ok but they’re not a heavy presence.’’
An Ivybridge Police spokesman said: ‘‘We tend to stay away from the club because they’re doing a good job and we don’t want the kids to feel like we are encroaching into their safe space. We have a good working relationship with YFC and the kids that go there are well behaved, it’s a really good asset to the community.”
But the town has seen an increase in anti-social behaviour when The Bridge Project is not on.
‘’Ivybridge Community College (ICC) is the second largest of it’s kind in the country with around 2,500 students,” said the officer.
‘’On Fridays we have some kids who either stay in town or go home and return on the bus and gather in places such as outside the Watermark.
‘’There are sometimes up to 100 in town ‘’There have been cases of some setting fire to the benches, gouging their names on the woodwork and spreading rubbish all over the place.
‘’We have even had cases of kids shoplifting spirits such as vodka, sharing it out then smashing the bottles.
We are working closely with Ivybridge Town Council, The ICC, YFC and youth outreach providers who have all been extremely supportive.’’