Cool Heads lend a hand

IT is not unusual to hear about youth crime and anti-social behaviour in Tweed, but it is not often you hear about the people who are out on the streets trying to help these young people.

But that's exactly what people like Anne Cosgrove and Tweed youth outreach service Cool Heads are doing each week.

Cool Heads aims to reduce the risk of young people becoming the victims or perpetrators of crime.

Run by St Joseph's Youth Service, Cool Heads has trained volunteers who drive a bus from Tweed to Pottsville on Friday and Saturday nights.

They offer young people advice, first aid, referrals to other youth services or just someone to talk to.

“We park the bus in a safe area and sometimes we approach young people and explain what we do, or we wait for them to come to us,” said Ms Cosgrove, who was recently appointed as the service's project recruitment officer.

“We have got to know some of them, so often they come and have a chat.

“It provides a reassuring presence and allows us to check everything is okay.”

Ms Cosgrove, who is also a social sciences student at Southern Cross University, said subjects like psychology, indigenous world views, counselling and social welfare had assisted her involvement with Cool Heads.

“It's satisfying to be able to put my studies into practice in a way that makes a differ- ence to people's lives,” she said.

Cool Heads, which is endorsed by both Gold Coast City and Tweed Shire councils, was set up in response to concerns about an apparent rise in youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

The organisation relies on volunteers, who are trained in areas such as first aid and conflict resolution.

SCU community engagement officer Lisa Francisco, a member of the Cool Heads steering committee, said the project provided an important service for young people and the rest of the commu- nity.

“It's visible and accessible to the people it aims to help, and it also provides a way to get a clear picture of what's really happening,” Ms Francisco said. “It's about diffusing situations rather than policing.”

People who wish to volunteer for Cool Heads should call 0407 192 121.

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