SMYP has been working in the community since 2008 with young people. It was initially set-up as a youth club but has grown exponentially over the years. We have two full-time staff members offering a wide range of activities from parent - toddler groups to family climbing sessions. We work in the local schools to provide support with mental health and well-being and offer training to parent/ carers about how to understand children's behaviour. In 2013 we opened 'The Hub', a youth drop-in facility in the Methodist Hall. The Hub is open after school until 6pm to offer a safe, fun environment for young people to relax, play and be supported by our youth workers and trained volunteers. Our vision for the community has always been to support and mix inter-generations in our rurally isolated town. The use of the Methodist Hall was our first step to our greater vision. We now have the opportunity to develop this plan further...
The Town Council are undertaking a Neighbourhood Planning initiative and have consulted the community through a survey and numerous meetings. Through the consultation the community have given a positive view on building a youth-led, community hub. 78% of those surveyed said they were in favour of this project but we are well aware that this may take time to find the land, finance, design and build it. In the meantime...
Community Hub Phase 1 - Disused Methodist Church
We have been given the opportunity to use the disused Methodist Church on a short to mid-term lease. We have taken this opportunity to involve young people from the start in designing a small facility (PHASE 1) that will prove the worth and need for the bigger project (PHASE 2) but, more importantly, will help us support and facilitate change in our community sooner.
The planning phase has already started and the time scale is given below:-
* September - November: Ideas, Training, Research, Designing.
* December - January: Research visits and final design.
* (If funding is in place) February: Start decorating, building
* April (after Easter): Opening to the public
Proposed café with doors closed
WHAT THE FUNDING WILL SUPPORT
Poly tunnel - Will be used to engage all ages to come together to grow vegetables to be used in the community cafe. A volunteer from the local horticultural society will take the lead and engage young and older people.
Café - Designed by young people, the café will have a theme of dance, climbing and music. These are the three themes that will be a major part of the Community Hub as many of our interventions include these activities.
Dance Studio - The floor in the Church building is in good condition. We will prepare and varnish the floor for dance use and provide movable mirror walls for use in the area just in front of the stage facilitating the use of the stage for storage.
Soft Play - The soft play will be 5m x 5m removable equipment to make use of the flexible space. On the reverse of the movable mirror walls will be murals created by young people assisted by a local artist for the soft play with themes of nursery rhymes and local countryside art.
Decoration - The decor in the main section of the Church building needs to be refreshed but in keeping with a Church as the Methodist Community, who have released the building on a peppercorn rent, hope to use it for special events. The rear room will be converted to a café and the young people will have free reign to make the most of the space.
Decking - There is an uneven area at the front of the building. We will level it by building a low level decked area for café seating and hammocks (in the summer).
Main space for soft play, dance lessons and live music
HOW WILL IT WORK?
The Community Hub is situated close to the centre of the small market town. Our aim is to continue our work with young people and with all ages by using the whole Methodist Church site where our youth hub is currently situated in the Methodist Hall. The café will be open all week with various activities delivered in the building. Two full days a week there will be dance lessons from toddlers to adults. Three days a week the soft play will be open and in the evenings there will be different events for all ages. The café will be open throughout and led by our café manager who will co-ordinate volunteers and part-time staff.
WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES OF PHASE 1?
- Much of our work is targeted to those who are struggling in various ways with anti-social behaviour, social isolation and poor mental health to name a few. Our vision is to not group people that are struggling into a specific box but to include everyone in a positive space giving opportunities for everyone to become a better version of themselves.
- We know, through our experience, that by building positive, lasting relationships we can facilitate change. A major part of this is through the activities we provide for all and we believe that by opening a Community Hub it can become a catalyst to promote active citizenship, employment opportunities and positive mental health.
- There are limited facilities in the community to welcome toddlers and we want to create a positive space for parents to relax and engage with their children through the soft play.
- By creating a larger, welcoming space it will be easier to deliver some of our courses for parents and young people who use the Community Hub for different activities.
- Our Town is aiming to become a dementia friendly town. We aim to make the community hub a therapeutic space for dementia patients to relax and their carers to take a break for a few hours.
- By using this building we will prove the need for the purpose built Community Hub (PHASE 2) which will include a climbing and bouldering wall, play therapy room and work-shop with modern facilities on top of the activities we will have in Phase 1.
- Developing life skills in growing vegetables, nurturing them to fruition and using them for cooking.
- Offering valuable work experience and part-time jobs for young people in catering and hospitality.
- Building aspirations through activities both in the community hub and linked to our themes - climbing, dance and music through regular trips.
- A clear performance area for musicians, younger and older, giving opportunities for new talent to emerge.
WHY SUPPORT US?
St Mary's Youth Project evolved from a volunteer-run youth club that started to meet a need for young people to access opportunities for interaction with their peers and community members for two hours a week.
The fact that we now have two full-time staff and would like more, affirms that we are not only seeing a greater need but we are aiming to meet it too. Below is a flyer of our weekly activities reaching out into the community. By supporting Phase 1 you will be ensuring this work continues to grow in developing young people, their families and the wider community through the Community Hub facility.
Our current weekly activities