Wanstead boy, 15, makes plea over leisure facilities

A schoolboy voiced his concerns about the lack of leisure facilities for young people where he lives.

Jake Reaper, 15, of the Brading Crescent Estate, Wanstead, told councillors there were no activities for under-16s and asked for the situation to be improved.

Jake, who attends Wanstead High School, Roding Lane West, was speaking at the area committee one meeting at Wanstead Church School, Church Path, on Monday.

He said: “We have a community hall, but there are no activities for people of my age there. Communal spaces here are no good as ball games are not encouraged by neighbours and the nearest youth centre is two-and-a-half miles away. Also, crime on the estate has escalated and incidents are getting more serious as children develop.

“A lot of children who have nothing to do don’t want to play out through fear of other young people, and rely on their families to take them out.”

Cllr Sue Nolan said: “Thank you Jake for coming along and it’s lovely to see someone of your age stand up and put their concerns across.

“I do appreciate there aren’t a lot of facilities for young people in your area, however there are lots of leisure facilities in the borough.”

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Cllr Nolan suggested going to Wanstead Leisure Centre in Redbridge Lane West, but Jake said he wanted somewhere closer.

Cllr Michelle Dunn suggested getting together with nearby Empress Estate to set up a youth club.

Shannell Johnson, of Brading Crescent Residents’ Association, said as she left the meeting that she has arranged community events for youngsters in the past, but funding had proved hard to come by.

“We’ve had up to 70 people coming along which is brilliant,” she said. “But an event every couple of months isn’t going to get children off the street. The hall on the estate is used, but the activities available like martial arts and drama aren’t suited to younger children.”