11 July 2024

New Youth Hub for young people across St Helens: A place to be safe, comfortable, happy and be yourself.

Young people are celebrating at YMCA St Helens today. A brand-new youth hub, funded by the UK Government’s Youth Investment Fund, opened its doors for the first time. YMCA St Helen’s funding was only announced last August, and since then building work progressed rapidly to modernise, extend, and transform previously underinvested and underused space into a new youth hub.

It is an exciting moment for local young people. The youth hub is a safe, friendly, and modern space to build new friendships, take part in fun and fulfilling activities and reach their full potential. The newly extended youth hub has virtually doubled the space and means YMCA St Helens can support an additional 175 young people every week. Prior to its official opening, local young people have already joined  “taster activities” to get a feel for the new space. Around 20 young people came along to the first session and loved it.

YMCA St Helens’ youth hub held a celebration event on July 10, 2024, aimed at showcasing the new facilities, and celebrating the difference the youthwork of YMCA St Helens has made on young peoples lives in the past, the present and the future. The celebration event was attended by young people and families, partner organisations, DCMS officials, Key Fund and Social Investment Business.

YMCA St Helens was awarded a Youth Investment Fund grant of £1,472, 851.00. It is funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and is delivered by Social Investment Business in partnership with Key Fund, Resonance, and the National Youth Agency.

Before receiving the funding, the space that is now the youth hub had not been refurbished since the 1970s. The building was crying out for modernisation. It is now transformed into an accessible and sustainable youth space that young people can identify with. The building offers two main zones. Downstairs is a space to ‘Get Active’ while upstairs is a ‘Get Creative’ space, plus a new Youth Café.

The creative space includes an performing-arts studio, green screen for photography, film and digital skills, and a performance space. Getting active is all part of the ethos, so there is plenty of sports activities on offer like dance and football, and there’s even a brand-new bouldering wall.

The café is a space to chill, have a meal and a cuppa whilst playing table tennis or pool. Youth workers make sure that everyone is well nourished and gets a meal if they are hungry. Young people will get the chance to learn life skills through cooking workshops at the café. Alongside providing an exciting array of fun activities, the youth hub is there to support young people’s individual needs, helping to improve their wellbeing and reduce the likeliness of poor mental health.

The Youth Hub will also enable young people to access “Y Mentoring”, where they will be paired up with a trained adult volunteer from the local community and receive up to 12 months of 1 to 1 mentoring support, and “The Listening Service” will extend its 1 to 1 support for young people wanting support to improve their mental health – with a combination of short 30 minute “drop in chats”, and the more formal 12 weeks of 1to1 listening support – aiming to reduce the need to get more intensive support in the future.

The new youth hub was designed in partnership with young people who have been supported by The Listening Service (part of YMCA St Helens). More than anything young people said they wanted the space to be safe, a place where they could be comfortable and happy, and a place to be themselves. By understanding the needs of young people, YMCA St Helen’s new hub offers something for everyone. They recognise that while some young people like big noisy spaces, others want a small space to chill and relax.

Reflecting on applying for the funding and delivering the youth hub, Matthew Moreton, Director of Development said:

“It’s been a rollercoaster journey! What started as a small idea, that no one believed would happen, blossomed into something more ambitious. It felt like an impossible dream! When we secured our Youth Investment Fund grant, we couldn’t quite believe it! “

“Of course, there have been a few challenges along the way, but we’ve remained focused on delivering something amazing for young people. We’ve been waiting for a long time to deliver our dream youth hub. The satisfaction of seeing young people come to the space and say WOW has put a smile on everyone’s face. Thanks to the Youth Investment Fund, young people have a safe, friendly, and exciting space to call their own. “

For more information people can email youthwork@ymcasthelens.org.uk

visit ymcasthelens.org.uk