Recently we saw our first Youth ROC Conversation take place, which we now hope will inspire other local communities (one is planned for Wilmslow in February). The youth conversation took place in Dawlish, Devon following a successful adult conversation event in 2017. Prior to the event, a survey was conducted in which 320 young people aged between 10-19 took part. This represented 21% of the total number of young people in Dawlish.
The view shared by these young people demonstrated that they had a real appreciation for their town, but that they also recognised gaps in provision, desired facilities that were missing and commercial enterprises they would love to see come to Dawlish.
Top of the pops is just the location! They love the beach, which was mentioned repeatedly; they appreciate the beauty, The Lawn, the woodlands and wildlife. They like it that Dawlish is compact and easy to get around, but they feel that the shops are largely irrelevant to young people, apart from the much appreciated sweet shop.
They would like to see more branded outlets in the town. Clothes shops were mostly boutiques for the older market, they think ‘New Look’ or similar would be great. They think that the numerous cafés are mainly providing for the tourists and they would like some nationally branded ‘fast food’ outlets to be situated here. Top of the list would be McDonalds, but any other would be good too.
They were concerned about the town’s communications, especially the recent troubles over the railway. When the sea defences had collapsed making the line impassable, it had a direct effect on those who travelled to Torquay for schooling. The fact that the defences had twice been breached showed on-going vulnerability.
Some of their aspirations are reliant on commercial businesses being attracted to the town; and that at a time when we know the ‘High Street’ is facing huge difficulties; or infrastructure investments beyond the reach of ROC and local organisations. However, many of their ideas were about a simple deliverable provision that could be done through goodwill, partnerships and some basic raising of funds. The Mayor was enthused by the Youth ROC Conversation and committed to bringing about what they could to help the town’s young people enjoy their place in Dawlish more.