Drop-in centre set to provide a safe space for Albany youth to call their own
The Albany Youth Support Association is gearing up to open its doors as a drop-in centre next month to offer a home away from home for the region’s young people.
Within its rainbow walls, AYSA’s new base on Sanford Road offers a haven for young people and a place to find their feet while doing it tough, with an internet cafe, music production room, art programs, kitchen, washing facilities, and pool and air hockey tables.
The latest addition to the space comes thanks to a donation from Albany Regional Prison’s metal workshop, which has converted a 44-gallon drum into a fireplace to warm the space.
Prison Supt Charlie Tuck said he hoped to work closely with AYSA to help break the cycle of incarceration by supporting local youth.
“If I can assist (AYSA) in changing just one person’s life, we’ve succeeded,” he said.
“If we can stop them going down that wrong path, adjusting their course and bringing them back into the rest of the community and society, it is going to be much better for everyone, inclusive of that person.”
AYSA chief executive Ian Clarke said early intervention was the key to breaking the cycles of family violence, drug addiction and homelessness facing Albany’s youth.
The drop-in centre was a way to help young people open up during hard times, he said.
“Sometimes you only get one chance with a young person that wanders into the drop-in centre, and that one opportunity to engage ... may make a massive difference to them,” he said.
“So if it means just playing a game of pool and actually starting to open up a dialogue with them, that can lead to some fantastic changes.
“I have seen a number of people in the very short time I have been here. Their whole lives have changed just with their interaction with the youth workers here, and suddenly their life is turned around and it is going in a positive direction.
“You could say that collectively we are trying to put Charlie out of business.”
The youth service operates on a referral system, but AYSA outreach services manager Chrystie Flint said opening as a drop-in centre meant help was more accessible than ever for the 12-25-year-olds the centre supported.
AYSA also operates Young House, a 24-hour crisis accommodation centre for youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The drop-in space will allow young people who are couch-surfing or without stable accommodation to relax.
“The doors will be open, there will be no eligibility for young people to come and access the service other than being aged 12-25,” Ms Flint said.
“They can come and go as they like, grab something to eat, have a coffee, hang out, use the gaming equipment, do their resumes, or look for work on the computers.
“It becomes their space, their second home, their only home for some of them.”
The AYSA Young House refuge is open 24/7. For help, call 9842 2082.
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