New community centre opening next month will have 'conversation starters' for isolated people in Northampton

Luke, Sophia and Jasmine will be the three conversation starters.
Luke, Sophia and Jasmine will be the three conversation starters.

Community Court Yard is on a mission to transform a former Gold Street shop into a community education centre for everyone in Northampton to use, which will be youth-led.

The community centre will be funded by a National Lottery grant for three years to the tune of £220,000 and will be open at the point-of-need, at nighttime, weekends and early morning for anyone who wants to use it.

The centre will open in number 62 Gold Street at the end of February.

The centre will open in number 62 Gold Street at the end of February.

Founder Bianca Todd said: "The idea of it is we are living in a place where people are socially isolated and there is not anywhere in the town centre open to everyone.

"We wanted to find a space that's young people led but involves the whole community so it covers the whole of the demographic."

Community Court Yard was first set up in 2011 as a not-for-profit social enterprise that seeks to 'create a better world'.

It started as a 'social education project' at grassroots level, targeting young people and ex-offenders and their families.

After being awarded a grant this year, the project is employing three new staff who will be called 'Conversation Starters'.

They will be employed to drum up chatter at the new centre around three topics including, youth and community, emotional wellbeing and children and families.

Bosses want residents to come up with their own ideas for how to use the building... but Bianca has some of her own ideas.

She thinks it would be successful to host supper and film nights, game days, guerrilla gardening workshops and use the space for parents to educate their children who are homeschooled.

She said they are rejecting the idea of working competitively and will not be in competition with anyone.

The centre also aims to reduce knife crime in the town by giving the youth a non-traditional centre to feel safe in and give them a sense of belonging.

"All too often people moan about the town and they don't find a solution to it," she added. "These are really difficult times. People are living hand-to-mouth and they are really struggling.

"Let's get people to be proud of Northampton. It seems to me as if Northampton has low self-esteem. I love Northampton and I think it's fantastic but we need to work together to make a difference.

"Young people are scared, they are in difficult situations and we want to be a part of a solution but it has to be young people led, so let's create a community that they can be a part of. We have a space that's open when people want it open."

Community Court Yard is working on the building now and aims to be open by the end of next month.