A Portland supermarket has been providing a sweet treat for youngsters who are out on the island’s streets in the evenings through a charity project.
The Tesco superstore at Easton donated 50 tubs of hot chocolate to the Portland Youth Christian Outreach for its Engage project.
Engage offers practical support and guidance to young people between the age of 11 and 21 who are disaffected or at risk of harm by walking the streets of the isle on a Friday and Saturday evening between 7.30pm and 11.30pm.
The volunteer workers provide positive activities for young people to be part of, such as frisbee, football or basketball and dissuade young people from engaging in risk-taking behaviour.
The volunteers also provide a listening ear, bottled water, lollipops, flip-flops, information and guidance, first aid and now hot chocolate.
Zach Williams, project co-ordinator for Engage, said: “We are really grateful for the support that Tesco has given us in donating the hot chocolate. We’re only a small charity and rely mostly on donations.
“We will take the hot chocolate with us in flasks when we are working with young people in their communities, and I’m sure that it will be greatly appreciated by them late on a weekend evening, when sometimes they don’t wish to go home due to personal circumstances.”
He added: “We believe that the work that we do with young people is effective. In July alone we had 200 appearances of young people, had conversations with 94 of them and took action or provided guidance to prevent harm on 10 occasions.
“To keep it going we need support. Everything costs money – every bottle of water, every lollipop, every pair of flip-flops, every first aid dressing. We welcome support from the community – and we’re looking for more workers to join us in our work.”
One 15-year-old, who wished only to be known as Rich, said “It would be lovely to have a hot chocolate on a winters evening when I’m cold.”
Debbie Lindoe, Community Champion at the Portland Tesco, said the superstore was happy to support the work Engage does with young people She said: “We are happy to support the outreach project. Tesco are striving to help the local community.”
Portland Youth Christian Outreach also runs The Open Arms Youth Drop-In Centre in Easton Square, which is open on Friday and Saturday evenings from 7.30pm until 10pm.
If you can help Engage in any way, whether financially or by volunteering your skills and time, please get in touch with Zach at firstname.lastname@example.org