Wales politics

County Lines: Could a 'shed' help combat drugs gangs?

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Media caption"There are people out there quite willing to lead our young people astray"

A scheme which helps vulnerable young people off the streets hopes to help combat County Lines drugs gangs.

Scott Jenkinson established the UK's first "youth shed" in Denbighshire two years ago.

Youth Shedz Cymru gives formerly homeless young people the opportunity to transform derelict buildings into a space they can call their own.

Mr Jenkinson, a former heroin addict, said he hopes to see Youth Shedz in every town in Wales.

Young people using the scheme, which was named homelessness project of the year at the UK housing awards, are able to use the space to enterprise - repair bicycles, print T-shirts, restore old furniture and socialise.

Mr Jenkinson said it is crucial young people are given an alternative to the life he had.

"I didn't have a purpose or belong anywhere, I certainly wasn't part of society," he said.

"What we have to do is make Youth Shedz more attractive because there are people out there who are quite willing to lead our young people astray.

"Liverpool and Manchester has a huge impact on this area in terms of County Lines and drugs coming in. We have to combat that and show young people they belong in their own communities."

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Media captionWhat are County Lines?

Young people being supported by housing association Grŵp Cynefin's Gorwel project were given the opportunity to transform a former garage in to a useful space.

Kiera-Leigh George is one of the first "shedderz" who helped come up with the idea.

The 21-year-old had a difficult upbringing and was in and out of trouble with the police.

She was offered supported accommodation through Grŵp Cynefin and has turned her life around - but it could have been a different story.

Image caption Kiera-Leigh George said she thought she would have been in prison - but she is now making money through her artwork

"Drugs were a big part of my life. I thought I'd be in prison by now," she said.

"I got my life turned around but you have to keep at it to get to a better state of mind and better lifestyle.

"The youth shed has nurtured us and we've nurtured it - what it gives us we give back."

Zac Riley Peters feels lucky to have escaped homelessness after finding himself on the streets when he had just turned 20.

"I was very lucky. I was facing a long bout of homelessness waiting to get in to the housing system because it's very difficult," the 22-year-old said.

"I only spent a few nights on the streets and luckily I was offered a place at the Hub in Denbigh and got involved with the Youth Shed."

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