Helping the vulnerable to find creative outlets

Kris Johnson at the Step into Music base in Leyland
Kris Johnson at the Step into Music base in Leyland

Youngsters in Leyland are being encouraged to spray paint graffitti as a creative outlet – and as a means of keeping them out of trouble.

A new centre is set to open its doors to lead youths and teens away from crime and anti-social behaviour.

Kris Johnson is the driving force behind the new social enterprise company to offer a route to a better life through sound and art.

Kris, 31, a former pupil of Balshaw’s High School, who still lives in Leyland, hopes to open the aptly named Step Into Music centre at the Earnshaw Business Centre on Hugh Lane within weeks, if planning permission is passed.

Facilities will include a meeting and training room, a recording studio and a graffiti garden.

He has applied for grant funding from the National Lottery and has lined up experts to offer music tuition and a graffiti artist.

He said: “We’re a community interest company working with vulnerable young people and adults.

“We’ll be open from 10am until 10pm with a booking-only system, and the idea is we’ll work with local organisations to do something positive with children and adults in recovery from substance abuse, young offenders and anyone deemed vulnerable.”

Kris has first-hand experience of seeing how boredom can lead to destructive behaviour.

He is employed as a substance misuse worker by Blackpool Council and works with young people in the resort.

He said: “There’s a massive need for diversionary activities – one of the main reasons people get involved in substance abuse is boredom.”

The idea behind the graffiti wall is that customers can graffiti or paint pictures to their heart’s content with spray paint.

The finished work can be photographed and the pictures stored on a disk to take away.

Later the wall is painted over to create a blank canvas for the next group of users.

“The idea is to empower young people and vulnerable adults to express themselves through music and art,” Kris added.

“It’s a good way for people to put their life stories up and express themselves through music, whether it’s soul, rap, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll or pop.

They can come and learn musical instruments.”

He says he aims to keep course costs reasonable and the facilities will also be available to hire by the wider public too – for example for graffiti painting parties or by local music makers.

For more information or to enquiry about going down to the centre see www.stepintomusic.co.uk.