Heading home today to try to help make a difference for young people in Wigan.
I was incredibly lucky to have brilliant support in the early part of my career.
The photo above was taken in 1978 when I was a cub reporter on the Evening Post and Chronicle. I learned an ocean of knowledge from my magnificent colleagues which gave me the confidence to venture into the wider world of journalism.
Hopefully telling my story will help motivate others to make a success of the opportunities they’re given.
The photograph with Her Majesty is a proud moment in my career when I was invited to Buckingham Palace along with other broadcasters.
It’s been quite the journey for me and I am delighted to be given the opportunity to share my experiences.
Perhaps you could also get involved with Youth Zones in your area. Let me know if I can help put you in touch.
These are the challenges some young people face in my hometown and what is being done to try to help them…
Wigan is ranked in the top 30% of local authorities for deprivation. The town suffers from higher than the national average levels of worklessness, smoking, excessive alcohol intake and nearly 27% of the population are obese.
This is the context for young people growing up in the area and at least in part explains why Wigan has growing levels of children with special educational needs, higher levels of children living in poverty, more children in need and increasing numbers of children going missing from home (Wigan Borough Council 2017).
This in turn has a knock on effect on educational attainment in the town. Wigan Youth Zone works with children and young people in their formative years (8-19 years of age and 25 for people with disabilities) and aims to counter the negative influences in the environment and replacement them with belief, confidence and ambition for the future.
We aim to make a difference every time a young person walks through our doors and by doing so we give young people a chance to enjoy their childhood, get a better start to life and prepare for adulthood.