TWO sisters are aiming to set up a youth centre in Appleby-in-Westmorland to give the town’s young people a “safe place to go”.

Mum-of-five Nikki Oliver, 36, said: “There’s nothing for them to do.

“There’s no focus, they’ve got no aim. They’ve got nowhere to go.”

According to Mrs Oliver, the ‘family and youth centre’ would help to combat some of the problems connected with young people in the town.

Indeed, she referred to issues such as drug dealers grooming youths, members of the public feeling intimidated by groups of teenagers and a perceived rise in vandalism and juvenile crime.

And now, alongside sister Tracey Smith, 33, she has launched a fundraising campaign to make her youth centre idea a reality.

The pair, who would look to run the operation themselves, plan for it to host a variety of different sessions, including toddler time in the mornings, after-school activities and evening and weekend sessions for teenagers.

Mrs Smith said: “We’re creating a strong community bond from an early age, so they’ll start to respect where they live, and respect each-other.”

Mrs Oliver said she wanted the children to be involved from the beginning, for example in decorating the premises and writing letters asking for equipment.

“They’ll look after it. It’s not just something that’s going to be there. It’s something that we’re going to work together for,” she said.

Though the fundraiser is still very much a fledgling scheme at the moment, Mrs Oliver was positive about its chances of success.

“We’ve had a bit of negative feedback, people saying ‘we’ve needed this for years, we’ve wanted this for years, it will never happen,’” she said.

“It will! We need a break.”

She added: “My kids have been talking to their friends, and they really want it. Parents really want it.”

Mrs Oliver said the £100,000 she and her sister were looking to raise would be used in areas such as buying equipment, hiring and training staff and acquiring premises - with them looking at the space above the town’s library.

The pair would also look to work with outside organisations to bring people such as substance abuse councillors in to run sessions at the centre.

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