Youth shelters

A typical youth shelter

A Shelter is an outdoor, unsupervised structure designed specifically to attract (and withstand) the attention of young people. It is an open structure, designed to meet the social needs of young people. A sheltered place to sit and talk. The roof provides shelter from the weather, whilst most shelters are open on all sides. This allows all round visibility and ‘natural safety’ for users. Some shelters include partial screening on one or more sides, which gives more protection from the weather.

Construction, shape, size, height and colour all vary. This can depend on location and price, which can vary from £5,000 to £40,000+.

They demonstrate a commitment to include and cater for the needs of young people as part of the local community. It contrasts with the idea that ‘the rest of us’ see young people as problems that needs to be resolved.

The structures known as Shelters have been in existence in Calderdale since 2001. The first one was installed in Crow Wood Park in Sowerby Bridge. Two others were placed in Rastrick and Siddal in 2004.

All have been part of a response to problems of antisocial behaviour involving young people, usually congregating in large numbers. This is on a regular basis and is a concern to local residents, Police, Youth Service, Council and Together Housing.

In all three areas this has been the case. This led to local people, young and old, coming together with a common cause to try and resolve the problem. In the case of Rastrick this was carried out as part of the Circle Project. An initiative supported by West Yorkshire Police, working with local people to develop responses to local problems and community involvement. The Shelter in Siddal was bought by the Police. It was placed in the park due to ongoing issues with young people.

Youth shelter toolkit

This Youth Shelter toolkit and pro forma is one of a series being created by the Calderdale Community Safety team. The guidelines help groups or individuals who feel there is a need for a Youth Shelter in their area/community. It offers guidance and advice on how to progress their requirements. This covers the step by step process that they should consider prior to any requests for a Shelter.

The Calderdale Community Safety Team view is that Youth Shelters provide an appropriate space for young people to gather. This is providing that they are what young people and the community want.

Youth Shelters will only be of benefit to the whole of the community if they are well used and sustainable. Sustainability cannot be achieved without going through the four stages laid out in this toolkit. Please contact your area Community Development Officer who will advise and guide you through all four stages. Names and contact details can be found at the end of the Youth Shelter Toolkit document.