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Young people create mural to make an impact in Bognor Regis

Young people have used street art to change perceptions by transforming a hoardings site in the town centre.


The teenagers wanted to do something positive for the town and raise spirits for the public at this difficult time.


This socially distanced mural project follows a series of Covid-19 safe workshops at The 39 Club. This series has been a partnership project between Sussex Clubs for Young People, with staff funded by BBC Children in Need, and U CAN Spray CIO, a spray-painting charity supported using public funding by Arts Council England using Lottery resources, with the mural project funded by Bognor Regis Town Council.


Bognor Regis Business Improvement District facilitated sites for the young people to spray paint. Reynolds have generously given permission for this exciting public art series on two of their hoarding sites, on the High Street and on London Road.


The mural was completed on the hoardings at 37 London Road on Thursday, August 12, to a brilliant public reception. Many members of the public came up saying how wonderful they thought it was and that it cheered the spirits of passers-by. It was great for the young people to hear praise for making a positive contribution to the town. The mayor, Cllr Phil Woodall, and other councillors attended to see the work first-hand as did Sussex Police.


Matthew Reynolds, business and property owner in Bognor Regis, and vice chairman of Bognor Regis Business Improvement District said: “One of the highlights for me is to work with and support young people in Bognor Regis.


“I live here, and I know how challenging it is for them to feel motivated, especially now as they’ve not been able to go out as much and vent their creative instincts. Obviously, it wasn’t great before with just a grey hoarding, which can detract from the town’s overall impression, but this is something that will really brighten the high street up.


“The design looks eye-catching, and the project has helped young people, and the organisations that are supporting them, so it’s a no-brainer.  It also gives something else for visitors to the town centre to see and appreciate. The more we can do of it, the better. This was a really professional approach from all parties involved and Reynolds are really pleased to work with young people and help transform the high street at the same time.


“I’m hoping that the young people have enjoyed doing this and that they would like to participate more – especially those feeling a bit more alienated due to recent times. It’s a great design and everyone involved should feel very proud of themselves.”


Projects officer, Sheila Hodgson, from Bognor Regis Town Council added: “Bognor Regis Town Council are keen to support community projects that benefit the young people of the Town, with a number of councillors donating their individual Ward Allocation Budget to support this particular project.”


The collaborative mural was led by Inclusive Arts practitioner Sarah Gillings, who is also a newly appointed director on the board of trustees for Sussex Clubs for Young People as well as the founder of U CAN Spray charity, whom she was representing on the day. The charity has previously worked with young people in Bognor Regis creating landmark murals in various sites across the town, including at the old Store Twenty One on London Road and on the seafront. Sarah recently completed the well-publicised mural transformation of the Saltdean Tunnel.


Sarah explained: “The power of street art projects to be transformative to communities and make places a tourist destination has been well documented and accepted. This particular group of local young people came to us with the idea that this was the activity they wanted to do, after seeing our posters in the town.


“Street art has the cool and ‘wow’ factor that young people want to experiment with, and for them to be involved in public-facing work boosts their self-esteem enormously! Not only this but it also engages and includes the whole community who can see tangible results and positive social change.


“It’s through keeping in touch with what’s actually happening at the grassroots level through public-facing projects like these that we are able to hone our offering based on actual need, in a post-Covid world which has been particularly hard on our youth.”


Cllr Woodall said:  “I’d like to see more of this work around the town of Bognor Regis; especially when, occasionally we have boarded up properties, and the hoardings can look a bit depressing; whereas if you liven it up it gives something for people to look at. For the community of Bognor Regis this is a brilliant asset for the town.”

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