The importance of providing young people with opportunities to let off steam has been underlined by an innovative motorsport programme in south London.
The Croydon Auto Bikes Scheme (CABS), has been running for more than 20 years and offers a variety of activities using motorbikes as a tool to engage positively with young people, helping them break the cycle of anti-social and criminal behaviour.
CABS, which is managed by PlayPlace Innov8 CIC and supported by Sport England’s Satellite Clubs funding, provides workshops which enable teenagers to learn about motorbike maintenance, safety, riding skills and the consequences of illegal behaviour.
Current activities include bespoke schools packages, youth offending and safer neighbourhood team referral schemes, Borough Road safety projects and informal drop-ins and club nights.
Off-road track days and events are also regularly arranged at CABS’ own track.
Claire Chacksfield, Transitions Director for PlayPlace Innov8 CIC, explained: “A lot of young people have become very inactive in the Croydon and New Addington area.
"With this kind of project, they don’t really realise that they are doing an activity and a sport because it’s something they really enjoy.
“It has also stopped young people from riding illegally on the roads. We are bringing them into CABS and teaching them a really good skill in mechanics, and enabling them to get out, ride and do it as a sport.”
The course also integrates practical activities with life and employability skills including AQA accreditations, CV-writing, job search and work-related skills .
It also covers a range of health and wellbeing subjects including drugs, alcohol and relationships.
CABS manager Andy Chacksfield added: “There is a lot of illegal riding, with mopeds for example, and by doing this they don’t have to do that because they come to us to do the riding.
"It keeps them off the streets and from nicking mopeds and joy-riding on them. We get referrals from the police where there has been anti-social behaviour, smashing windows and stuff, joy-riding.
"Here, they get to come and do what they want to do. A lot of them want to come here and learn because they are getting to the age where they can ride mopeds legally, but they haven’t got a clue how to fix them.
"So if we can teach them how to fix them, it’s going to save them money in the long run and it’s going to improve them and there’s a qualification in it.”
The Satellite Club funding specifically enables young people to join sessions each Wednesday afternoon during term time, and provides them with a day racing at the CABS track each half-term.
Claire said: “Without that funding we would not be able to keep running on a Wednesday which is an engagement session for all young people to attend.
"It’s really important that continues to be funded so they have that drop-in service. We are able to empower them to make the right choices.
"Without youth workers and youth provision, us being able to get that message out there about making the right choices, would be very much watered down.”
Find out more about how you can start a Satellite Club here.