Council to invest in new pandemic-busting Youth Support Hubs

Three new Youth Support hubs could be created by Wakefield Council to help counter the impact of the pandemic on young people across the district.

The Council’s Cabinet will be asked at their meeting next week to approve funding for the project.

A revamped Lightwaves Leisure Centre would cover the Wakefield city area of the district.

Platform One, a former youth and community centre in Hemsworth, would receive funding to deliver more youth support services.

And a third youth hub at The Hut in Castleford is already operational and makes use of the complex’s existing facilities.

Councillors will be told that young people have faced severe problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic, especially those who are disabled or vulnerable.

Youth unemployment in the Wakefield district increased by more than 50 per cent from 1,490 people in March 2020 to 2,290 by July this year.

The pandemic has also affected physical and mental health and left many families facing financial difficulties.

Margaret Isherwood smiling
Cllr Margaret Isherwood

Cllr Margaret Isherwood, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We want to see all young people on the path to success.

“That includes being prepared for adulthood, being equipped with the skills to be valued and engaged citizens, being in good health and having access to lifelong learning.”

The three Youth Support Hubs would offer support to increase the number of young people aged 16 to 24 in employment or education, offer opportunities for improving health outcomes and provide recreational facilities.

They also aim to work with voluntary and community organisations to create more open access youth clubs, and positive youth activities for young people aged 11 and over.

The plans have been drawn up following consultation with young people, including an open day event for young people and residents at the Lightwaves Leisure Centre.

Access to health and wellbeing and employment and skills support were raised as priorities along with taking part in sports, creative activities and having fun.

More detailed proposals for the potential renovation of the Lightwaves Leisure Centre will be discussed at a future Cabinet meeting.

Young people and the local community have asked for facilities such as a café, informal activity space, music, film, multi-media and performance spaces, training and workshop rooms plus an outdoor floodlit games area.

The Hut continues to focus on employment and training and already has a partnership with Jobcentre Plus and the Council’s Employment Hub, which began in July.

And in partnership with health services, a wellbeing programme is to start there in October.

At Platform One in Hemsworth, activities under consideration include, employment and skills support, health and wellbeing programmes, sport and recreational activities and cooking and healthy eating programmes.

Cllr Isherwood added: “Hemsworth has a higher percentage of young people living in some of England’s most deprived neighbourhoods compared to the rest of the district.

“There is also a larger number of young jobseekers and more reports of anti-social behaviour than in the rest of the district.

“So extra support for young people should make a big difference to their lives and to residents across the board.”

Members of the Cabinet are meeting on Tuesday 12 October at 10.30am. The meeting can be watched live or later on the Council’s website.