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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Former Stagecoach bus transformed into mobile youth zone

A former commercial bus has been given a new lease of life to support a pioneering partnership aimed at tackling youth-related antisocial behaviour on public transport in Greater Manchester.

For more than a year Foundation 92, formed by the Class of 92 and official charity partner of Salford City FC, has been deploying across the network in support of the TravelSafe Partnership.

Foundation 92 had been using a minibus complete with a TV and games console to provide young people with a somewhere to meet and socialise away from transport interchanges and tram stops.

But due to high demand for Foundation 92’s services, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has now secured a decommissioned Stagecoach bus which has been given a makeover to serve as the charity’s new expanded mobile youth zone.

The bus, which has been funded through the Home Office’s Safer Streets Fund following a joint bid by TfGM and British Transport Police (BTP), has been fitted out with an interactive games space, table sports, refreshments and a relaxation area.

It will also have the capability for virtual reality (VR) software, which is due to be launched later this year.

The bus was formally launched last week during Greater Manchester Police’s Operation AVRO, a two-day crackdown on crime and antisocial behaviour on the public transport network.

Vernon Everitt, Transport Commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “Foundation 92 and their hardworking team have become a crucial part of the TravelSafe Partnership, engaging with around 2,000 young people in communities across our region.

“They have been so effective that often their mobile youth hub has become overwhelmed with the level of interest shown by young people, so I am delighted that the TravelSafe Partnership has come together to secure funding for this new bus. My thanks to Stagecoach and all TravelSafe Partners for making it happen.

“This will help increase Foundation 92’s capacity to provide a safe space for young people, some of whom are vulnerable, to socialise away from our public transport facilities and explore how they can play a full and constructive role in the creation of the Bee Network.

“This is all part of our wide-ranging strategy to ensure everyone using public transport and active travel facilities are, and feel, safe when moving around.”

The work between Foundation 92 and TravelSafe began as a pilot scheme during the 2022 summer holidays, before being extended and the charity later becoming part of the wider TravelSafe Partnership

Earlier this year Foundation 92 supported TfGM’s Better Than That campaign, which saw outreach teams tackle youth-related antisocial behaviour head on by talking directly to youngsters and urging them to think about how their actions can affect others.

Since joining the TravelSafe Partnership, Foundation 92 has deployed their mobile hub 153 times at key locations across the public transport network, engaging with 2,200 young people.

Tom Hutton, Head of Foundation 92, said: “We’re delighted to be further extending our work with TfGM through the F92 mobile youth zone. The impact the mobile zone has made so far has been outstanding and I’m looking forward to supporting more young people through the additional youth zone across the transport network. I’d like to thank TfGM for their continued support.”

The funding bid shared by TfGM and BTP was lodged as part of the fourth round of the Safer Streets Fund, which was initially launched by the government in 2020 and allows local authorities, transport bodies and police forces to apply for financial support for local crime prevention schemes.

Alongside funding the new Foundation 92 mobile youth zone, the most recent Safer Streets has also secured:

  • 30 VR headsets and immersive software training package to roll out to high schools, this package will help humanise and illustrate the consequences of throwing objects at public transport.

  • Two drones for BTP to increase CCTV coverage in remote areas of the public network to provide virtual ‘eyes in the sky’ and support the deterrent of crime and antisocial behaviour.

  • Enhanced ‘trusted people’ provision in Bolton, including taxi marshals and Public Space Protection Order enforcement.

Superintendent Alison Evans of BTP said: "The Safer Streets funding means that, along with innovative projects like this, we can make a real difference working together to help young people escape the cycle of antisocial behaviour.

"The investment in drones, in particular, which the funding bid has allowed, ensures that we can have more eyes on hotspot locations to deter incidents of disruption and trespass."

Stagecoach Manchester has a history of providing buses to benefit the communities it serves, with one being converted into a vaccination centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and another being used last year to support an NHS England campaign to drive home the message of the importance of early cancer diagnosis.

This latest bus to have been donated to Foundation 92 had previously operated in and around Ashton-under-Lyne providing transport for customers travelling to and from Denton, Hyde, Stockport and Manchester city centre amongst other routes.

Rebecca Rathore, Operations Director at Stagecoach Manchester said, “Stagecoach has a proud history of supporting the communities we serve. Having been a partner of TravelSafe since its inception in 2015, we are pleased to collaborate with them and TfGM in supporting Foundation 92 in this project which is making a significant difference in the lives of young people, our customers, and our local communities.

“Our donation of a bus will enable Foundation 92, to build on the success of the work that they have been doing and engage with even more young people to talk to them about positive behaviour on public transport and provide a much-needed space for them to hang out.”

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