An impressive fundraising drive by the founder of the charity #Willdoes in memory of her son, has provided for a mobile youth bus to help the mental and physical wellbeing of young people in Dorset.
Speaking at the launch in Swanage, Lesley Paddy said:
“This amazing project is a legacy to my son, Will. We hope it will provide support to the young people where it is most needed.”
Lesley Paddy at the launch of the #Willdoes bus in Swanage
Help young people achieve wellbeing
The charity #Willdoes, which aims to help young people achieve wellbeing, was founded in August 2019 by Lesley after the death of her son William Paddy, aged 14.
In 2020, during the Covid pandemic, the idea took off to create a mobile youth bus that could travel across Dorset providing a range of services where needed, essentially a youth centre on wheels.
With a target in mind and despite lockdowns making it difficult to hold fundraising events, people across Dorset and particularly in Swanage started getting inventive.
Book and bric-a-brac sales were held in a Swanage front garden and Swanage and Purbeck Rotary backed a cuppacake fundraiser where tea parties limited to six people were held in Swanage back gardens.
Events that could take place as restrictions were lifted, like the Henry Searle Concert by the Sea at Prince Albert Gardens and a golf day at the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club, boosted the funds.
The bus is a legacy to Lesley’s son, William Paddy
“Will would be so very proud of us all”
“On behalf of the #Willdoes trustees and the fundraising committee, we would like to thank everyone who has donated, raised money and supported the charity over the last two and a half years.
“We have received some large donations from the Talbot Village Trust and also the Generations Trust.
“My family, and myself, are thankful for the support and kindness in this time. I know that Will would be so very proud of us all.”
Upstairs on the bus is an area to relax with bean bags and a room at the back where people can chat in private
Based in Swanage near the skate park
The #Willdoes youth bus will be based in the Main Beach car park in Swanage near the skate park but will visit areas across Dorset in need of youth service provision including Portland, Weymouth, Dorchester and rural villages.
The double decker bus cost £10,000 to purchase and a further £106,000 to kit it out.
On board, it now provides a safe space to chat, with a room for confidential discussions as well as a bean bag area to relax in and a small kitchen to provide drinks and snacks.
With LED coloured lighting and brightly furnished seating it’s intended to be a welcoming place where young people can meet up as well as get to speak to youth workers, counsellors and medical professionals.
The ground floor of the bus has a kitchen area and places to sit and eat
“The youth bus has come at the right time”
“Obviously, youth services have suffered tremendously over the years with austerity cuts and recently with the pandemic. We believe the youth bus has come at the right time.
“Many thanks for making this dream become a reality.”
“There’s a massive need“
Attending the launch were the charity’s trustees, friends, fundraisers, students from The Swanage School and other organisations that have helped turn Lesley’s dream into a reality.
The charity, Dorset Youth Association worked closely with #Willdoes in setting up the bus. Welcoming the launch of the bus, it’s chief executive, Mike Bennett said:
“There’s a massive need, especially with the pandemic, for young people to get mental health support. Youth services were cut across the country in 2015 and it left young people without places to go to.
“Transport is such an issue, especially in rural areas but if young people want to get involved, we can come to them.
“What’s needed are more community wellbeing practitioners at the grassroots level and investment in that will mean savings in the long term.”
MP for South Dorset, Richard Drax at the launch of the bus
“Great spirit in giving“
Also invited to the launch was Dorset South MP, Richard Drax. He said:
“The resources raised is remarkable – more than £100,000 – and over the pandemic as well. People in Swanage have a great spirit in giving.
“Sadly I don’t think there is enough provision of mental health services and children in particular have suffered during lockdowns. This bus will be important to direct people to get the right help.
“The government now totally accepts that physical health relates to mental health and has actually given billions more to mental health provision.
“However, you can always spend more money but it’s how you spend it. This will certainly fill a hole, which is fantastic!”
- Everyone is welcome to come and visit the bus, which will be at the Main Beach car park, next to King George’s Park in Swanage from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday 19th February 2022
- Willdoes is looking for volunteer bus drivers to drive the bus. It will be based in Swanage but will need to be driven to different locations around the county. Anyone who could help should email #Willdoes
- More volunteer youth workers are also welcome and training will be provided. To get involved contact Dorset Youth Association via its website
- More about #Willdoes is on its website