YMCA plan for Welwyn Garden City is about more than just a swimming pool

Sir – Many thanks for publishing the letter last month regarding the issues surrounding a swimming pool for young people, and further raising the awareness of a very important aspect of the proposed development: consultation. In developing ideas for the

Sir - Many thanks for publishing the letter last month regarding the issues surrounding a swimming pool for young people, and further raising the awareness of a very important aspect of the proposed development: consultation.

In developing ideas for the centre [YMCA unveils £14m project, WHT, October1], of which a swimming pool is a part, the YMCA has consulted over 1,000 young people.

The centre was never intended to be only a swimming pool and the consultation that has already happened endorses your sentiments that a swimming pool isn't enough!

In fact, the centre will host a variety of services and facilities for young people to use, including climbing walls, sound recording studio with editing hardware and software, access to an extensive IT suite, gym facilities, information, advice and guidance services for young people and much more.


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And all at no cost to young people.

Also, of vital importance, it must be noted that this centre is a young person's centre that is also accessible to the local community, rather than the typical model of this provision, being designed for adults, but young people are allowed access as well.

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Within the centre there will be areas that are specifically and exclusively for young people.

As you so rightly suggest, it is important that these areas are supervised. By being a part of a busy building and being included in a popular place, with staff and trained youth work professionals working from the centre, it is anticipated that this centre will genuinely meet the needs of the young people locally, and so contribute towards meeting the needs of the local community.

The author of the letter raised a number of important points stating that "youth needs somewhere to hang out" and gave "WGC town centre by Sainsbury's" as an example of a prime location for a youth centre.

The author went on to say that such facilities should include "TV areas, computer consuls, a chatting area, an IT suite a hot food area, etc".

I am pleased to report that the YMCA agrees entirely with this - indeed, such a centre already exists!

Space is a youth and community centre, run by the YMCA in partnership with the local churches, that is open three nights a week to young people, providing access to computers, sofas, a Wii, snacks and drinks, and all free of charge.

Alongside these facilities, Space provides positive developmental opportunities for young people who attend. For example, a group of young people who attend Space recently applied for and won a grant for over £3,000 to run a skate competition, including funding for travel, prizes and a video camera.

This model of a youth and community centre has already been so successful (serving up to 70 young people each night) that a second venue has been developed in Hall Grove, called Hall Grove Space, meeting on Wednesdays at All Saints Church, opposite the shops.

Centre's such as Space, and the proposed development on Peartree/ Broadwater Road, are particularly timely given the current news climate, with negative views of young people highlighted in the recent report from Barnardos.

At Space we have already seen a number of young people develop an interest in volunteering opportunities, start working towards qualifications, and develop meaningful relationships with people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds.

The YMCA is committed to enabling young people to achieve their potential and to championing the positive contribution of young people to the community

For more information on Space, or youth work carried out by the YMCA, please email Andrew.Ginn@ centralhertsymca.org.uk

Andrew Ginn,

Youth work development manager,

YMCA, central Herts.

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