Plea for empty building to start new youth centre in Northampton
Youth groups in Northampton have been given the go-ahead by all political parties to start a new youth centre in this town - but the question is, where?
A steering group, known as the #YouthSummit, has been launched by youth workers and councillors in the town who came together on Tuesday night at the full council meeting to tell the Guildhall why this town needs to take youngsters seriously.
The motion, which was given cross-party backing, outlines how a new youth centre will deflect young people from gangs and activity, provide jobs and career pathways for youth workers and give youngsters enriching activities.
Councillor Danielle Stone (Labour, Castle), who proposed the motion, said: "It's really important we take the needs of our youth seriously.
"It is our responsibility to make sure they are safe and provided with every opportunity to thrive.
"A town centre youth centre idea is great. It will be the hub with lots of activity that diverts youth away from crime, keeps them safe from gangs and gives them a platform to become leaders and change-makers."
The idea comes as different youth organisations got together last summer to share their ideas - and they identified the need for a youth centre.
The organisations, who are behind the project, are The Lowdown, Healthwatch Northamptonshire, Clubs for Young People, Free 2 Talk CIC, Peak Empowered, Springs Family Centre, NAYC, as well as Labour councillors Danielle Stone and Janice Duffy (Talavera).
Speaking at the meeting, Scarlett Valentine, said: "Because of my youth group I have been given the opportunities to develop and to develop others.
"At the age of eight, I started a group. I carried on until I was 11 but looked up to the young leaders who were there so I carried on at the group, often leading games and activities."
Through the group, she was nominated to go on a course called 'Emerging Leaders', she also volunteered at the summer holiday club and still volunteers with 11 to 18 year old youth groups.
She added: "Through doing all of this I have been given the opportunity to do a 'youth development apprenticeship' which has given me an amazing career pathway.
"If it wasn't for the youth club I started when I was eight, I wouldn't be the person I am today.
"I believe a youth hub would provide not only a safe space for many young people but also empower them and give them opportunities just like I received."
Zoe Robinson has worked for NAYC for 12 years. She is appealing on behalf of the organisations for a new home in the town centre where they can launch their youth centre hub.