Ipswich mum is a hero

A COMMUNITY-minded mother who took a stand against anti-social behaviour on an Ipswich estate has been given a government award. Sharon Wickiewicz was one of only 10 "local heroes" from the east of England selected by the Home Office to receive a Together Taking a Stand award.

A COMMUNITY-minded mother who took a stand against anti-social behaviour on an Ipswich estate has been given a government award.

Sharon Wickiewicz was one of only 10 "local heroes" from the east of England selected by the Home Office to receive a Together Taking a Stand award.

Today she described the award as "inspirational" and pledged to further improve the lives of children who live on the Greenwich Ipswich estate.

Ms Wickiewicz is a member and former chairman of the Greenwich Community Group, who repeatedly heard from other residents about the nuisance caused by youths in the area.

They complained about groups of youths hanging around the estate, of bins being torched, cars being stolen and play areas being damaged.

In 2002 Ms Wickiewicz led a push to establish the Greenwich Youth Project, which aimed to provide more productive ways for young people to spend their time.

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She said: "At the meetings everyone was saying young people were a problem. They were hanging around at the shops, torching wheelie bins and just hanging around the estate.

"The community also recognised that there was nothing for them to do.

"We had a barbecue that the young people themselves organised and then from that we asked them what they wanted to be doing."

That led to organised events ranging from community clean-up projects to trips out of the area to theme parks and other attractions.

Ms Wickiewicz said: "We were working with one group of young people at first. That group have now moved on but we are working with another group now.

"They have also got involved with the clean-ups that were done on the local area. At the moment the play area is being improved as a result of the work that we made happen."

Home Office minister Hazel Blears presented Ms Wickiewicz with her award at a ceremony in London.

That recognition has only further encouraged her to continue the youth project's work.

Ms Wickiewicz said: "I would like to see once the play area is improved we work at getting organisations to come in so we can have activities like organised football games and organised basketball games."

N Do you know someone in your area who you think is a local hero? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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