Supporting the younger generation

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


Southport Community Centre was a disused church 18 months ago but since investment from Sefton CVS has steadily grown into a thriving neighbourhood hub. Focusing initially on tackling isolation among older people, we now have luncheon clubs, art classes, film clubs and gardening groups. What's missing from this mix is young people. From plans for a graffiti art project to transform the building’s exterior with a giant mural, to a brand new garden space that will house recycled community art, there’s plenty going on here. But we really need more young people to help energize these projects. Either to work alongside our older folk to support them with the mural and garden – or to take the lead on exciting new social enterprise ventures, like our café.
A regular weekly youth club, staffed by qualified youth workers, could really help us reach out to that part of the community that are currently poorly underrepresented in the Centre. We held an open day at the Centre in April 2016 during which we asked the 100+ local residents who attended what types of services they would like to see developed. A youth club topped this poll. Prior to this in Nov 2015 we also recruited volunteers to perform surveys of over 200 households in the local area to ask residents what new activities they would like to see at Southport Community Centre. Over 70% of those residents surveyed indicated that a lack of activities for young people, particularly in the evening, was their chief concern. Strong local backing for an open, accessible and welcoming youth club is evident from our community consultation – we would love to deliver it.
Our garden site has a vegetable patch, flower beds, wildflower corner and a bug hotel – built by our regular luncheon club members. But we have so much left to do. To build a proper kids play zone in the garden, we have plans to construct a Willow Tunnel and Wind Chime Curtain. Our ‘Can you Dig It?’ garden club for older people would like regular support from members of a weekly youth group who could lend a hand. Our garden was designed in conjunction with youth groups from St Simons & St Judes who helped us develop a vision of how we can involve more young people to build this new green space.
Back in August 2016 we held a graffiti art workshop to get local people thinking about what type of mural they would like to see painted on the side of their community centre, to make the old building more welcoming to everyone. The workshop was well attended by members of the Parish Church Council, and our older person’s groups, but the graffiti artists who ran the event had hoped to work with more young people too. We had to rely on other youth groups from the wider Sefton area to send representatives to feed into this process of developing a community mural. Having an actual youth group based here, that had a vested interest in being part of the building and helping us transform it through future art workshops and hands-on painting sessions – this would allow us to produce a mural that properly reflects both young & old peoples hopes and aspirations for the Centre and their neighbourhood.
The kitchen space is currently only used once a week for a luncheon club. We have spare capacity to take on young people, provide them with training so they can work with us to build a community café. A youth group centred on this café could really generate some buzz in the neighbourhood – a dedicated space where young people can hang out, learn how to get involved in exciting projects like the mural and garden, and receive support and training form Sefton CVS to establish their own viable community café enterprise. Our IT classes, arts groups, film clubs and exercise classes – all for older people – have nowhere to readily go if they want a cuppa and slice of cake or hot meal outside of the luncheon club. A youth led café could fix this problem and offer sustenance, support and companionship to our older Centre users.

Sefton Council for Voluntary Services

Moment of Pride

Moving into an abandoned church building and seeing all the staff and local volunteers work so hard to renovate it to make a community centre. All the local enthusiasm for the garden & mural , along with the untapped potential in having a new weekly youth club that can breath life into these plans

Location: Southport