While many viewers would have watched last year’s A Current Affair footage of youths terrorising the streets of Willmot in shock or disgust, Father Chris Riley felt compelled to act.
The Youth Off The Streets founder was in Willmot on Friday to launch a youth outreach service.
It’s the fifth outreach to be opened after Youth Off The Streets received $5 million from the federal government’s National Crime Prevention Fund last April.
Young people can come to Willmot Reserve on Tuesday and Fridays from 4pm for an afternoon of sport, art, music and dance, along with a free meal.
Father Riley hopes to reduce youth crime and unemployment rates in Willmot.
‘‘I see it as an area where we can make a big difference,’’ he told the Star.
‘‘These kids need someone to believe in them. I wasn’t shocked by the footage. But you need to ask the question why they’re doing it and why the world to them is so bad. That concerned me more than anything.’’
Youth Off the Streets set up a outreach service in Macquarie Fields following the 2005 riots.
‘‘Within 12 months, the youth crime rate in Macquarie Fields had dropped by 40 per cent,’’ Father Riley said.
The Willmot program will be funded for two years.
‘‘By then, we want to see the participants in education or employment, not in jail or juvenile detention,’’ Father Riley said.
Willmot Outreach is looking for volunteers to help operate the service.
Willmot Outreach will operate out of the Blacktown Outreach office, which runs the following services.
Blacktown Outreach: Alpha Park on Wednesdays from 6pm and Thursdays from 5pm.
Doonside Outreach: Bert Saunders Reserve on Monday from 5pm.
Willmot Outreach: Willmot Reserve, every Tuesday and Friday from 4pm