Mobile youth centre ready to hit the road
A mobile youth centre and community pop-up café is up and running after raising more than £23,000 through Crowdfund Sunderland.
Oxclose Church in Washington raised £23,190 through crowdfunding to convert a double decker Stagecoach bus into a space to house a cafe, confidential listening service, and workshop space for young people in Sunderland.
The money for the project was raised through crowdfunding, with 28 backers contributing. This included £3000 from NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group and £3000 from Sunderland City Council.
The refurbished bus gives the church the flexibility to run its Ten10 programme, carrying out detached youth work.
The bus's lower deck has a café with tablets and games consoles while the upper deck has a confidential listening space and room for workshops. It also has an external extendable awning for outdoor activities.
The flexible space will allow for socialising, relationship building and learning. The church will use the bus to provide activities designed to help reduce instances of anti-social behaviour, as well as workshops on life skills like budgeting and searching for jobs.
Neil McDonald from Oxclose Church leads the Ten10 project. He said: "The Ten10 project was set up to help us reach more young people in Washington and the surrounding area.
"We're interested in the overall wellbeing of young people. This includes physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing - we want to see young people live their best life.
"When looking at ways to work with young people we realised our existing building was just not big enough, so we started to look at options for creating a new space and thought 'why not use a bus!'
"Here we are a year later with a fully kitted-out bus. So far, we have seen a really good uptake; on Tuesday nights we regularly have around 20 young people turn up. We hope to take it out soon but we're still in the testing phase and trying things out to see what the young people want from us - we want them to have a say about what matters to them."
Councillor Louise Farthing, Sunderland City Council's Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said: "Oxclose Church have done a fantastic job of raising the money for this project, and are sure to do an equally fantastic job of running this new mobile youth centre. It is great to see a project where young people can gain new skills, make new friends and gain confidence. The council is proud to have been able to support this worthwhile project."