'We are home now' - YMCA's revamp a success with youngsters

PUBLISHED: 11:00 12 August 2014

Cafe and drop in centre.

Cafe and drop in centre.

Archant

TEENAGERS and youngsters, who are part of the YMCA family, have been able to return home thanks to a £400,000 revamp.

The hub in Weston’s Lower Bristol Road has a new gym, nine studio apartments, a kitchen, meeting room, shower and toilets ready to serve the community.

Staff, volunteers and members of the charity moved into Barcode in South Parade, while the renovations were completed and have now returned to the new-look building.

YMCA member Tash Wilson-Richardson is now living in one of the new flats and said she hopes the centre will help more people in the town.

She said: “I hope it will bring some good to Weston and it will give kids somewhere to go so they are not hanging around on the streets.

“Seeing people’s faces light up when they walked in was one of the best parts. It’s been an amazing experience for those who were here before the work was started.

“We are home now and I think they are really proud of the building.

“It’s amazing and I’m happy to be here.”

The 19-year-old has taken on a YMCA apprenticeship in cookery and said the new kitchen and facilities will be the start of a community café for the branch.

She said: “I think in turn this will become a place for kids to take up hobbies and learn new skills.”

The revamped centre, which was originally built in 1877, was made a reality thanks to cash from the Homes and Communities Agency and Weston Town Council.

It also includes furniture created by Somerset Wood Recycling, such as aeroplane chairs and sofas with seats from Jaguar cars.

Martin Hodgson, chief executive of YMCA Somerset Coast, said: “It has been a very long journey from the initial vision - transforming a large and historic building into something which is relevant to the community we serve today.

“The YMCA is ensuring young people get the help they need to engage in careers and make a positive contribution to the community.”

The site works in partnership with the town council and the community café will be open six days a week, alongside the fitness suite.

Town council clerk Malcolm Nicholson added: “Being one of the only consistent deliverers of youth related activities in the town, the town council is able to support young people and add value to their lives and involve them in decision making.”

For more information on the YMCA call 01934 629787 or email info@ymca-sc.org

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