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A lifeline for Chichester’s young people

A group of young people outside practising their skateboarding skills together. The are in a park setting, with lots of trees around them.

Young people in Chichester just want somewhere that’s safe and they can call their own; somewhere to meet friends, be themselves and vitally, to get a hot meal. The Chichester Shed will be a lifeline to these young people.

The Shed will be based in a deprived neighbourhood in Chichester. It is an area with over 40% of social housing, growing anti-social behaviour problems and where there are no community spaces solely for young people. The area houses many vulnerable and low-income families, and a lot of the local young people come from separated families and spend their time moving between two homes.

The Chichester Shed is an opportunity to turn young people’s frustration and boredom into a positive force for good. Young people engaged in the Chichester Shed’s project say they want a safe space created around their needs. A space where they are not judged or told old what to do. As one young person said, the only option other than being at home or school is “loitering around car parks.”

Clare de Bathe, CEO for Chichester Community Development Trust, says that the Shed has been a “longstanding dream in the making.”

Chichester Community Development Trust had already secured a lease for the land and planning permission when the pandemic put their dreams on hold. Now young people from Chichester have something to celebrate. A Youth Investment Fund grant of £421,375.00, will help to transform their fortunes. Thankfully with planning and procurement in place, the Shed will have a fast-paced six-month turnaround. If work starts in August, the new youth centre will open its doors in January 2024.

Young people have been at the heart of the Shed’s design. The overwhelming desire is for a space, free from judgement, where they can relax with friends. More than anything young people said they wanted somewhere that they could get a hot meal. One of the young people, sharing their dream project, drew a picture of a cow. They explained that they wanted a cow as there’s never any milk at home, so having access to fresh milk would be their dream. Although the Shed can’t accommodate a cow, there will always be a hot drink and something delicious to eat on offer.

Investment in Chichester’s young people is long overdue. Whilst developing more local social housing was vital, there was little thought about youth community facilities and integration, and young people have nothing to do after school.

Clare de Bathe
CEO for Chichester Community Development Trust

Clare de Bathe added:

“Not surprisingly they are frustrated and there’s been a rise in anti-social behaviour. That’s why the Youth Investment Fund is such a lifeline to us. The Shed will empower these young people, turning young people’s frustration into an incredibly positive outlet for them to engage with, offering a space to support their mental and physical health and wellbeing, make friends, have fun, and gain new skills for work and life.”

The Shed will be a custom-built space, accommodating both workspaces and social spaces enabling the provision of a range of activities and opportunities for young people that is completely lacking in the city. It will provide a constant open access youth offer in the evenings and throughout the holidays, giving young people a space to relax, gain confidence and new skills, and take part in engaging activities. There’s even a graffiti wall space to help young people express how they are feeling. And it’s a space that will also connect young people with the outdoors. It overlooks their community gardens and the local cricket green, and young people can enjoy using a new fire pit and outdoor space to experience the feeling of camping and connecting with nature. During the day the space will be used to support young people not engaged in education, employment, or training, supporting their wellbeing, and helping them to gain vital life skills.

The Shed will not only be a vibrant new space for young people, but it will also bring generations together. The idea is to enable older “shedders” to share their shed skills with young people – things like wood and metal work, electronics, and other life skills. By bringing generations together it will help everyone to connect with others face to face; creating a space where ‘shedders’ engage with each other ‘shoulder to shoulder’ as a more manageable means of socialising, learning, and collaborating.

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