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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Fudge, foxes and boredom in Devon
By Claire Marshall
BBC News

A report by the 4Children charity has suggested that the majority of teenagers will probably spend their summer wandering the streets at a loose end.

Do they really have nothing better to do?

Bored teens
Bored teenagers say they need more to occupy their time

The sea in the harbour sparkles in the sun beneath the striking emerald cliffs which rise up steeply from the bay.

Tourists stroll by, licking their ice creams and looking at the fudge selections in shop windows.

The town of Ilfracombe in North Devon is pretty enough to warrant a postcard home.

But for the young people growing up here, it is a very different story.

Each evening, as the holidaymakers retreat to the restaurants and hotels, the teenagers emerge to do... not very much.

'Ilfracombe bums'

Karl, Chris and Stephen kick a ball around in the road outside the amusement arcade.

They say that, since the skateboard park was filled in with concrete, this is their only source of entertainment here.

They narrowly avoid smashing their ball into a window and then head to the usual hangout - the harbour wall.

Here they sit, night after night.

Chris, 19, the hood of his tracksuit pulled up, says: "We are the Ilfracombe bums around here, there's just nothing for us to do."

All we seem to be known for is ice- cream and fox hunting
Mischa Smith, 16

Stephen, 16, says most nights he and his friends "just wander around doing nothing".

I ask them what they need.

"Astroturf or something - just somewhere to play football," says Karl.

"We try to play around here but the police kick us off."

A DVD made by local youngsters about what their lives are really like makes for graphic viewing.

Teenagers are shown rolling joints, racing motorbikes around the streets, jumping into hedges and arguing with adults.

"We always end up getting into trouble here," a youth says.

The local council has now created the role of "young adviser".

Young advisers are young people who get paid to put across their views to the authorities.

Mischa Smith is 16, confident and outspoken.

I don't think they remember back to when they were young
Skateboarder Robbie Coates

"It's definitely about time things started happening down here," she says.

"All we seem to be known for is ice cream and fox hunting.

"But we need more facilities and better public transport. Children don't even get a discount to travel on the buses."

Skateboard fanatic Robbie Coates agrees.

He said: "There's a real divide between adults and young people here. We get hassled all the time, we get moved on.

"I have been spat on.

"I don't think they remember back to when they were young."

Rory McDonald, who runs the Transform neighbourhood management scheme in North Devon, admits that many older local people wonder what all the fuss is about

They claim they were always able to find their own entertainment, he says.

But he says that, if Ilfracombe and other Devon towns want to stop the exodus of young people to the cities, they need to engage and listen to the next generation.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Youths on the streets of Ilfracombe



SEE ALSO
Youths 'bored in school holidays'
11 Jul 07 |  Education

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