Thursday, February 1, 2018

News: Lifestyle survey shows same issues remain

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A higher percentage of young people say that they regularly visit Rotherham town centre but perceptions around safety remain, a recent lifestyle survey shows.

The Borough Wide Lifestyle Survey has been carried out since 2006 and was most recently carried out over the Summer of 2017. With a sample of 3,811 young people, it is considered a valuable tool by the Council, helping to provide an idea of what young people understand and can enable the council to tailor services towards young people. Issues covered include food and drink, education, sexual health, bullying and safety.

The results showed that young people visiting Rotherham town centre had increased by 7% following a period of decline. Respondents who said they visited Rotherham town centre regularly (at least once a week), was up to 33% (1,251) of pupils from the 27% reported in the previous year. The figure is close to the 40% reported in 2014. 6.25% (198 young people) said that they have never visited Rotherham town centre.

The survey shows that the main reason that young people go into the town centre is for shopping (48%) with other reasons to attend a football match at New York Stadium and to meet friends.

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On the issue of safety in Rotherham town centre, 2015 results showed that just 18% of pupils said they felt safe in town centre and 82% said they did not feel safe.

The questions were changed slightly in 2016 to ascertain how safe young people are feeling; with the options of always feeling safe, sometimes feeling safe or never feeling safe replacing yes I feel safe or no I don't feel safe.

Showing a decline from last year, overall the 2017 results show that 18% of pupils said they always feel safe, 50% said they sometimes feel safe and 18.5% said they never feel safe.

In comparison, in 2016 24.6% of pupils said they always feel safe, 45.4% said they sometimes feel safe and 19.3% said they never feel safe.

Again, the survey highlighted safety issues with the bus station, where 18% (693) said they always feel safe, compared to 23.6% in 2016.

Pupils taking part in the survey said they would like to see improved CCTV and presence of more security e.g. police or wardens.

Bev Pepperdine, performance assurance manager at Rotherham Council discussed the findings around safety with councillors at a recent meeting. She said: "These percentages are perceptions. It is a perception question. It used to be "Do you feel safe - Yes or No?" and it was a very high percentage, a lot higher than this, that were saying that they didn't feel safe. We were getting data even though some young people had never actually used the bus or train station.

"We are sharing the data with the Police and the Safer Rotherham Partnership, who are using it to help shape their priorities.

"Safety, in and around the town centre, from a young person's perception, doesn't just come out in this. The work we did on child-friendly Rotherham and reimagining Rotherham saw safety as an issue."

Despite statistics showing that Rotherham town centre has experienced lower levels of crime and ASB than other nearby towns and cities, it is not just young people highlighting the perception of safety in Rotherham town centre.

In response to constant concerns from the public, partners, businesses and councillors, a new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for Rotherham town centre and Clifton Park came into force last year.

The lifestyle survey was carried out before the introduction of the PSPO so it will be interesting to see if it affects the perceptions of young people who use the town centre.

Also set to have an impact on safety and perceptions of safety is the revamp of the Interchange which has been designed to address "a below standard customer experience and one in which levels of personal safety are compromised."

The lifestyle survey also asked for young people's wider perception of Rotherham. Pupils were asked to say if they would recommend Rotherham as a place to live and whether they would like to be living in Rotherham in ten years' time, a significantly higher percentage of pupils gave positive responses to recommending and continuing to live in Rotherham.

Pupils were also asked about leaving school and there has been a decrease in the number of young people overall who said they aspire to go to university. This has reduced to 42% (1,592) from 45% in 2016. 5.5% (211) of pupils aspire to start their own business, up from 5% in 2016.

Images: Norseman Holdings / RMBC

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