Places for People demonstrates a true commitment to the neighbourhoods in which it works; beyond the aesthetics and construction, the company embeds itself in local communities, supporting in any way it can. A recent example was in Chorley, where the company became a founding patron of Chorley Youth Zone, a new facility which opened in May 2018.
Giving hope to young people
This Lancashire town needs support when it comes to young people; statistics show that of the 15,000 individuals aged between 8–19 living here, 13.3 % of them are living in poverty. 14.1% of those in year 6 – that’s the last year of primary school – have also been diagnosed as clinically obese.
“We wanted to try and do something to give young people here new opportunities,” explains PFP project coordinator Tony Hennon, “That’s why we had to step in and support the Youth Zone cause, both financially and pastorally.”
Places for People made its commitment to the project before building had even begun; a £75,000 donation was made to the charity over a three-year period, in which time the relationship has flourished, the centre’s young members have even renamed the centre ‘Inspire’ on account of the work that’s been done.
Tony continues: “If you visit the Inspire centre you’ll see a contrasting picture to what the statistics suggest; it’s a warm and welcoming place, filled with happy faces and somewhere which has given young people with somewhere safe to enjoy themselves.
“But behind that, there are some harrowing stories of young people faced with difficult lives; before the centre launched, young people living in the area had no access to low-cost activities, so hanging around on the streets was a favourable pastime. Either that, or spending time alone sat in their bedrooms. The existence of Inspire has changed that.”
She will go to the ball
Among the many young people who’ve benefitted from Inspire is Laura; a Senior Club member, Laura lives in Chorley and has attended the Youth Zone regularly since it’s opening – a far cry from her social life of old when she’d prefer to spend time alone.
Openly sharing details of her difficult personal life and complex financial situation, Laura has built brilliant relationships with the Inspire team, regularly attending the centre, trying out new activities and making new friends – all in a safe and secure environment.
One recent worry in Laura’s life however was whether she could attend her school prom. Her financial situation was hindering her ability to attend and she was saddened about missing out on the special day. Thanks to Inspire however, this Cinderella did go to the ball, and the Youth Work team arranged for outfits and accessories to be donated by ASOS and Boohoo.
“The photos from her special day show how these small steps truly changed a young person’s mindset and view on life,” continues Tony. “It’s special moments like these that only happen due to the work of Chorley Youth Zone.”
For anyone in the local area, Inspire is open every day, with all young people aged 8 – 19, and up to 25 for those with disabilities. Membership costs just £5.00 per year and each visit is 50p; low cost fees mean that facilities and activities including sports, art, music, dance and drama, employability and mentoring programmes, are accessible to all.
At the outset in 2018, the team had a target of 1,000 young members in the area; today that figure is five times that, with more than 5,000 members signed up. Tony continued: “Since the centre opened, young people have visited the Youth Zone more than 27,000 times. That level of enthusiasm is impressive and it’s a pleasure to work alongside the Inspire team who’ve been able to quickly engage young people in the local area – making positive changes to their lives.
“I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this venture; it’s gone way beyond the financial support, it’s about our time and focus on investing in the prospects of a future generation.
“Looking back, I remember being stood on the centre’s vacant plot of land, holding an umbrella, staring at a pile of bricks and wondering what the future would hold. It’s absolutely phenomenal what’s happened since; we’re making fundamental changes for these kids in the here and now – and it’s genuinely life changing.”
Adds Janine Blythe, Chief Executive at Chorley Youth Zone: "A heartfelt thank you to Places for People for choosing to support the Youth Zone and the town's young people.
“We have now gained support from all three housing providers in Chorley which is a great achievement. Without the support of our growing family of founder patrons, Inspire Youth Zone cannot become a reality for Chorley's young people."
Chorley Youth Zone is just one of the many community projects PFP’s Homechoice initiative supports, to find out more about all the work the team does please visit: https://www.placesforpeople.co.uk/about-us/about-the-group/