Unity Hub user numbers blossom

By James Renoux-Wood - Thu 19 September 2013, 4:36 pm

An Edmonton youth centre, Unity Hub at Craig Park, has seen more than 800 young people use its services since it opened in May, according to centre manager, Rafique Ullah.

Government funding worth £3.5 million was granted in May 2009 to develop the site, secured through the government’s ‘My Place’ youth centre programme, in which 40 young people from the borough worked with architects to design the centre to their own specifications.

The centre now offers a music studio, dance hall, climbing wall, media suite, pool, table tennis and an outdoor area for football and basketball.

"The reaction teenagers have when seeing what’s available is amazing to witness,” said Ullah. "There’s an element of disbelief, they don't know what to say. It’s as if they’re asking ‘what, all this is for me?’

"We’re giving young people that come here access to things that they would never normally be able to use."

As Unity Hub falls in line with the council’s push to link regeneration projects in the borough to social-economic activity, it contributed £400,000 towards the project.

Neil Rousell, director of regeneration, leisure and culture at Enfield Council, said: "There’s no use moving ahead with regeneration projects without considering the wider community.

"In order to improve perceptions of the borough, the first and foremost important thing to do is to take account of the people that already live here."

The centre also offers young people the chance to gain a qualification in youth leadership and manage the centre.

"Ultimately it’s about raising young people’s expectations and aspirations. It's rewarding to see what people can do if they're given the opportunity," said Ullah.