Volunteers build £10,000 worth of rooms for Northampton Youth Charity

Northampton Becket Rotary Club and the staff of The Lowdown give a cheer outside the offices.
Northampton Becket Rotary Club and the staff of The Lowdown give a cheer outside the offices.
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A volunteer group has helped double the capacity of a Northampton youth charity after building it a new suite of rooms worth £10,000.

The team of 17 stripped out the rooms on Kingswell Street, off Gold Street, and redesigned them with three new counselling rooms and a set of offices in just 18 days.

One of three new counselling rooms added by the Rotary Club's extensive work. They completed the project in 17 days.

One of three new counselling rooms added by the Rotary Club's extensive work. They completed the project in 17 days.

The Lowdown, a confidential drop in youth counselling charity, now has six counselling rooms and a bank of offices to help them grow their cause.

Ellie Blackwell, operations manager for The Lowdown, said:"It's unbelievable how much has been done. Our nurse now has her own room, we have dedicated office space to help grow our work, and we have the room to help more people than ever.

The work, titled the 'Dawn of Change Project' and carried out by the Northampton Becket Rotary Club, in effect doubles the charity's ability to counsel and support Northampton's young people.

Terry Atkinson, a Rotarian and the man who led the project said: "We've been coming to the Lowdown's offices for years. Last year we saw how we could really make a difference. I'm a builder by trade, and I saw how one large, empty office could be stripped out and made into three new counselling rooms, and how the upstairs could be completely redone."

Northampton Becket Rotary International received a thank-you lunch and plaque for their help.

Northampton Becket Rotary International received a thank-you lunch and plaque for their help.

Northampton Becket Rotary Club got to work on November 28 and in just 17 days had transformed The Lowdown's premises from three counselling rooms to six.

One room upstairs had a set of pyramid-like stairs for group counselling. When these were ripped out they discovered a window they did not know they had and converted the space into offices.

Terry said: "It's such an important cause. People come in here and leave more stable and happier."

Ellie Blackwell, operations manager for The Lowdown, said: "The job would have cost over £12,000 if a private contractor was hired. But with all the voluntary work and the donations of skill, time and materials from so many people it cost us only £2,300."

A total of £1,500 of materials for the job were sponsored by local company W.H Shoobridge and Sons Ltd, while EcoElectricals also gave a discounted price to support the project.

Ellie said: "Counselling services are sometimes seen as a last resort. We want to change that. The sooner young people come to us for support the better.

"They can talk to us about anything. Absolutely anything. We can advise on sexual health and provide free condoms and contraceptives, and even tests for chlamydia.

"The counselling service demand from young people means that we have to recruit and train 15 new support workers to deliver our vital life-changing support for the town's young people."

Geoff Shaw, president of Northampton Becket Rotary Club, said: "The rotary club are a global phenomenon. I don't think there's a city on Earth where Rotary International don't have a base.

"It's a great sense of achievement seeing what we can do when we come together.

John Toby, chairman of The Lowdown, said in a speech to the Northampton Becket Rotary Club at a thank-you lunch on January 27: "What you've done here is absolutely fantastic. You have in essence doubled our capacity to help young people in Northampton. Thank you to everybody involved for your hard work and dedication.

"Young people these days are under such pressure. School can leave them in such distress and thanks to social media their problems can follow them home. We want them to know how talking about their problems really does make a difference.

"With this, we can receive more referrals from the NHS and help more people. We want to increase our monthly sessions up to 225 and offer block counselling sessions."