Award bittersweet for embattled Mingle Mob

Ben LeahyNorth West Telegraph
The Youth Involvement Counci’s Mingle Mob van in action last June with South Hedland police and fellow community group Bloodwood Tree.
Camera IconThe Youth Involvement Counci’s Mingle Mob van in action last June with South Hedland police and fellow community group Bloodwood Tree. Credit: Heather McNeill

Hedland’s Mingle Mob program has earned a State award for its work encouraging children to stay out of trouble, despite being in desperate need of funding.

Run by community group Youth Involvement Council, Mingle Mob seeks children wandering the streets or living in bad home environments and attempts to work with them to improve their lives.

YIC chief executive Vicki-Tree Stephens said her team was proud their long-running program had been recognised as the best 2016 regional organisation at last week’s WA Council of Social Services awards.

Yet she admitted the award was bittersweet because Mingle Mob was running on a skeleton budget and faced possible closure by mid-year.

“It is bizarre how ... we have just won an award for the fantastic stuff that we do, (but that) yes, Mingle Mob is still struggling for funding (and) has done since 2012,” she said.

“We are thankful to the people who have supported us, but we haven’t actually had any significant funding since 2014.

“If something doesn’t come through by mid-year, all Mingle Mob operations will cease.”

Ms Stephen’s warning comes as South Hedland police battle a wave of youth crime and in four nights last week stopped 88 children from wandering local streets unsupervised.

Ms Stephens said Mingle Mob was struggling to fund even its most visible program.

Its brightly coloured bus, which picks children up off the streets and transports them home or to fun activities, only operates on Thursday and Friday nights from 6pm to 9pm.

“In a perfect world, we would be out there every night from 6pm until midnight or even longer,” she said.

Ms Stephens said while Hedland’s local government, resources industry and small businesses supported Mingle Mob, it lacked adequate Federal or State Government support.

“(Our) industry and small business (supporters) believe … it is a government responsibility (to support this type of program),” she said.

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