|Young People and the Police
For all sorts of reasons, young people and the Police do not always get along. Da Joint has provided a unique opportunity for both sides to meet in a non-confrontational venue. Our rural partnership PC Dave Leipnik, spent a lot of his spare time helping to build the centre, and was an invaluable aid in gaining funding and donations, with the help of our Rural Warden Sarah Port. This gave them both the opportunity to meet and make friends with young people from the village. Dave can pop in when the centre is open, either just to say hello, or to have a quick cuppa at his break time. Dave has since been posted on to the Maidstone area, but still maintains close ties with Borough Green, and will be helping with the Christmas Lights this year in his days off. He has been replaced by Daphne Allen, whose picture is elsewhere on the website, and to our extreme good fortune she is as community minded as Dave was, and is rapidly becoming part of our lives.
photo courtesy of Sevenoaks Chronicle
More Background to Da Joint
Borough Green is a large village, and serves as the hub village to Wrotham, St Mary's Platt, Ightham and Plaxtol, and many smaller hamlets, and contains the main transport links, shops and businesses, and other infrastructure. We have had "problems" with young people, nowhere near as bad as some larger communities, but large enough to make the Paris Council realise that action was needed. Our first priority was to establish, by talking to young people on the street, what was causing this upsurge in antisocial behaviour, and discovered that their main concern was having nowhere to go.
The Parish Council appointed Mike Taylor, a Parish Councillor to investigate furthur, and to see what could be done. Mike came back and reported to the PC what was needed, and Sue Murray, who was PC Chair at the time, recommended funding by the PC of five thousand pounds as seed money, to get projects off the ground quickly whilst longer term funding was sought.
After a series of public meetings, well attended by villagers including young people, the Village Hall Management committee made a leap of faith, and agreed to allow the old caretakers flat in the Hall to be used for the centre.
Demolition began in September 2002, removing the walls and opening up the space. At this time the caretakers flat was just a bare breeze-block shell, no floors, ceilings, windows, power or heating. Every spare minute for seven months young people, helped by volunteers, local tradesman and businesses converted a derelict shell into a cool comfortable venue.
Such was the level of support from across the community and outside funders that money saved on the construction paid for new equipment such as flooring & furniture, rather than the original plan of scrounging second hand material.
The centre was opened by Sue Murray on the 30th March 2003, with a reception attended by over 100 guests including thirty of the young people who built it. Because we needed to get the alcohol message across from the word go, the guests enjoyed tea, coffee and fruit juice to wash down the delicious buffet supplied by Shirley Garnett and Celia Gibbs, the driving force behind Borough Green's superb Christmas Lights.
The centre was opened by a game of pool between Sue Murray and Mike Taylor on the newly refurbished slate table donated by Kent Aluminium DIY, and delivered by a back broken PC Dave Leipnik.
Da Joint in Operation
The centre is open four evenings a week, Thursday to Sunday, and on Mondays and Wednesdays for band practice and music nights.
We have only three rules, and all strictly enforced:
1. No Drugs
2. No drink
3. No fighting.
It was realised that this was intended to be the young people's place, and that the morals and codes that apply there must be theirs, except when that activity would be illegal. We have two areas of the walls with blank framed boards for scribblers and would be graffiti artists to exercise their talents, and that largely keeps the main walls clean. I have to warn our frequent visitors when they see the boards not to read them, we older ones have gentler dispositions and are easily shocked.
We were very lucky with the breadth and volume of the funding assistance we recieved. Listed below are some of the funders who helped, but not forgetting the little old lady who donated twentyfive pounds cash, and the anonymous electrician who donated ALL the power and lighting equipment we needed.
H+H Celcon, Kent Aluminium DIY,
Kent Peoples Trust www.kentpeoplestrust.org.uk
Malling Lions Club www.district105se.freeserve.co.uk
Rural Revival, European Social Fund www.kent.gov.uk/rural_revival
KCC Rural Partnership www.kent.gov.uk
Kent Police Property Fund
TMBC Crime Reduction