Since its establishment in May 2008, Space, a community centre set up in Welwyn Garden City by YMCA Central Herts, has grown from a one-night-a-week social group for young people into a five-day youth and community programme.
Aiming to compliment rather than duplicate local services, the centre now offers a drop-in café, a listening service (especially for those who have experienced loss/bereavement), a Young Parent and Toddler Group, a Grandmas' Group, which brings together ladies from different faith communities, and a beginners computer course, as well as hosting the Credit Union and Citizens Advice Bureau.
All the activities are free of charge to make them accessible to everyone and Space works closely with local secondary schools to identify those who would most benefit from their services and invite them to attend drop-in sessions. Young people are also encouraged to take ownership of the project and play a proactive part in budgeting and making club decisions.
Space was furnished with the help of local businesses and a council grant, whilst donations, fundraising and grants continue to fund the project. Sessions are facilitated by a centre manager and youth workers who manage teams of volunteers from the local churches and community. Staff liase closely with the police, their support officers, substance abuse counsellors and sexual health advisors to help manage and address any issues around running the youth club.
The youth drop in sessions have been recognised as contributing to a decrease in anti-social behaviour locally and an increase in positive development activities for young people. With increasing numbers attending, some of the older youth have even volunteered to help with other sessions. In light of this, in 2009 the project was short listed for the ’Everyday Impact Award’, by the Directory of Social Change (DSC).
Following the success of the Space model in Welwyn Garden City, a new centre is to be opened in Hatfield.
SPACE Youth & Community Centre
38 Church Road
Welwyn Garden City
Herts. AL8 6PW