A group of young people receiving support from West Mercia charity YSS (Your Support Service) have been busy throughout the summer taking part in a variety of activities, from learning to care for horses to trying their hand at archery and climbing walls, as part of ‘Divert’, a YSS service that provides support to 13 to 16 year olds who are involved, or at risk of becoming involved in, the criminal justice system.

Divert is a diversionary service aimed at young people who are displaying anti-social behaviour, have started to disengage with education and training and have little or no focus. The young people who choose to join Divert often have a myriad of different issues, and many can feel that what is on offer in the community is not for ‘people like them’. YSS changes that perception by introducing them to a wide variety of activities, including sports clubs, employment training programmes, educational courses and community activities like art or music groups.


Over the six week summer holidays YSS funded a range of activities for service users to take part in, giving them the opportunity to socialise, learn new skills and increase self-confidence. Activities ranged from horse experience days, organised with Perry RDA (Riding for the Disabled) and involved grooming, cleaning hooves and measuring out food, to attending an activity day at Condover Hall in Shrewsbury, which offered the opportunity to experience archery, climbing walls and an adrenaline packed aerial assault course.

As part of the horse experience day service users also had the opportunity to learn more about vaulting. Like gymnastics on horseback, vaulting is a technique using a pad on the horses back instead of the saddle, and is done at the walk and trot. Read more about the activity here.

As a result of the time spent with the horses, two young people have since become regular volunteers at the stables. They will have the opportunity to complete coaching certificates to enable them to lead small groups, and will be working with children and young people less able than themselves.

Similarly, the day trip to Condover Hall offered young people the opportunity to meet new people, socialise and overcome barriers. A service user who took part in the day trip to Condover Hall, said: “I really enjoyed the day at Condover Hall. It was a great confidence-booster for me – learning to work together with people that you don’t know and building new relationships was a great experience, and I can’t thank the keyworkers enough. Everything they have done has helped me so much and has made a massive positive difference to my life.”

Lorraine Preece, YSS Chief Executive, said: “It’s fantastic that young people receiving support from YSS have been able to enjoy a wide variety of activities this summer, and even better that two young people have now become volunteers and are able to use the skills they have learned to make a positive difference to others.

“This is a great example of how one to one support can empower people to make better choices, and can prevent minor issues from becoming bigger problems further down the line. We are thrilled to hear service users enjoyed themselves and would like to thank everyone involved in organising these trips and activities, which have proved to be vital learning experiences.”

The horse experience days will continue during the October half term, and will also return next summer. To find out more about Divert, please click here.