Young people love Brighton Youth Centre, it’s a safe space, a chance to make new friends, be yourself and not have to worry about judgment.
Young people love Brighton Youth Centre (BYC). Along with amazing activities like music, drama, arts, and the only indoor skateboard park in the city, BYC connects to other services including mental health, LGBTQI+ and refugee support, making BYC a special and unique space in the heart of the city. This much-loved space is dilapidated and falling apart, there are limits to what they can do, and it’s just not accessible to enable everyone to enjoy it. Changing this has been a dream in the making for seven years.
Now, BYC has an amazing opportunity to create a new look vibrant youth centre, thanks to a grant from the Youth Investment Fund, and investment from Brighton and Hove City Council. This much-needed grant will help make Brighton Youth Centre a fully accessible, environmentally sustainable, state-of-the-art facility, open seven days a week. It will give young people more opportunities to improve wellbeing, develop interpersonal skills, grow in confidence, explore their identity, and find a voice.
Young people have been right at the heart of BYS’s dream project. Over 70 young people helped shape the initial plans, bringing youth voice and creativity front and centre. There is a real sense of youth owning the space, sharing ideas for safety and inclusivity, accessibility, expanding the range of services and activities offered onsite to include pathways to employability, wellbeing, and health. The project has also been developed to connect with city-wide partnerships and will create a safe space to bring in others who can add value to young people’s lives, for example for health and wellbeing teams and a non-clinical setting for social prescribing, mental health, and sexual health settings.
BYC started my growth into becoming a musician and being there helped me create the friends I have now. I was just starting to delve into music and I just started to play ukulele and stuff like that, but I got the opportunity from BYC to start gigging and here I am now, 20 years old at a music university. If it wasn't for that one night when I was 12 getting onstage with a uke, I probably wouldn't be here right now. It was also a safe space for me to go to express myself, be who I wanted to be, and not have that fear of being judged. I think it's important for BYC to be refurbished because I want everyone else to have that same experience as I did, I want everyone to have that chance because I think it's really important especially for younger minds to develop in a space they feel safe.
Once complete the new style BYC will be a fully accessible and sustainable place and has been designed to enable BYC to run multiple groups in the building simultaneously.
The ground floor will include a café and social space, and a refurbished gym for five a side football, basketball, and aerial circus skills. Towards the back of the building will be a large modular performance space including rehearsal space, theatre seating and staging which can double as a dance studio or meeting room. A separating, soundproof wall will be built between the gym and the performance space allowing both spaces to be used at the same time. A second floor will provide offices for BYC staff and existing and new partner organisations, creating a city-wide hub for youth projects in Brighton & Hove. The third floor will host an improved indoor skatepark almost double in size and height, with lift access and a larger seating area where viewing is possible. There is also lots of space for self-expression and socialising and some unfinished areas where young people can create murals.
When it opens its door the new BYC will be able to support 3000 young people from across the city and the project will generate great opportunities for work and volunteering.
The investment will enable BYC to become accessible and sustainable, building on 100 years of youth work in the city, the condition of the existing building had put the project at risk we can now look forward to our next 100 years. The building development is important for the whole city including the thousands of young people he will use the project and the workers and volunteers his roles will be supported along with the many other partner projects that we work with. The new building will allow us to build on our existing strengths such as arts, music, events and skateboarding and enabling a range of new services and partnerships. Using our experience and the involvement of young people in the design will ensure that the new building better meets the needs have a diverse range of young people whilst helping to generate income to support the service and reducing negative impact on the environment.
Mike Roe, CEO for Brighton Youth Centre