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Case Studies

The Cowshed: A skylight to look at the stars

A grant from the Youth Investment Fund will build  the Cowshed youth hub, enabling Projects4Change to extend their offer and better serve local young people in Newcastle.

Projects4Change is a small youth work charity that was founded in 2018. They work within communities and in partnership with others to create youth work projects which help young people develop and flourish into adulthood. Over the last few years, they have built an organisation that is both needed and effective in supporting some of the most vulnerable young people in Newcastle Upon Tyne. 

The community has a higher-than-average number of young people and a larger number of single parent families. Some of the young people have a lot of needs; with many are living in poverty. Right now, Projects4Change has limited space and cannot support all the young people in the local community. 

Betty’s Hut and Garden
Projects4Change’s first youth space, Betty’s Hut and Garden, opened 2021, and offers open access sessions for young people. The youth hub is a much-loved space, but far too small to support all the young people who need it. Projects4Change needed a new space to help them reach more young people.  

“The Hut is too small, with too many things going on at once. Sometimes we want a quiet area, more room to be with friends and find our own space.”

Betty’s Hut is surrounded by plenty of outdoor space, including three raised beds, a pond, and trees. The garden, fire pit and natural wooded space are important for their work around the environment, increasing young people’s skills and learning about the natural world. There are several areas with hammocks and cloth swings, and the site is filled with young people’s art, a mural, mosaic, totem pole carving, handmade bunting, and floor cushions.

Plans for the new Cowshed youth hub

The site includes overgrown and inaccessible land that could be repurposed into a new and exciting youth space. Building a new space would almost treble the capacity of the indoor space per session and would enhance their offer to young people and give more capacity for running holiday activities.  

The Cowshed 
A grant of £806,819.00 from the Youth Investment Fund will build a new Cowshed building, enabling Projects4Change to extend their offer and better serve local young people. The Cowshed will be on the same garden site as Betty’s Hut and Garden. It will enable Projects4Change to work with 122 more young people per week.  

Work started on site in June, with the ambition of completing in November 2024. It’s a simple wooden frame construction, and all the materials are made in the UK. The building will include a green roof, efficient insulation, solar panels and a heat pump. The inside space will house a kitchen, toilets and store cupboard, plus a large circular space with skylights and circular seating. It will be enhanced by two smaller spaces for homework and chilling out.  

The main space will be multi-use providing drama, art, informal and alternative education, as well as basic skills. An indoor group workspace will cater to group work sessions, holiday programmes, and volunteer and apprentice training.  The whole site approach includes new lighting and walkways, with improved accessibility for everyone. The space will enable, partner organisation Unfolding Theatre, to provide weekly art and performance-based opportunities to enhance vital skills and give a voice to young people.

The new space will be in keeping with the creative outdoor/indoor theme of its current offer. Projects4Change is green at heart, encouraging young people to engage in environmental projects, like fire pit cooking, bushcraft growing, forest school and enjoying the natural environment. So, it is vital that the new Cowshed building is efficient, fit for purpose, sustainable and respectful of the environment.

We want to do dance, drama and more art and room to do homework and a skylight to look at the stars.

Young person supported by Projects4Change

Projects4Change recognises that young people experience the world differently and that their needs are not always taken into consideration, that’s why they work hard to listen to young people. The Cowshed’s design, look and feel is informed by young people.

Young people meeting the architects

Projects4Change engaged young people in many ways, including a ‘round-the-fire consultation’ and enabling young people to meet with the architects to both understand the planning process and get involved in the design and decor. Young people said that they wanted a safe space, a skylight to look at the stars and an opportunity to try new things and attend more often.

“Round-the-fire chats with Tim, Maral and Asher (XSITE Architects), we wrote down what everyone said, we wanted a natural space that fit with Betty’s hut.”

“I need good access when I need to use my Wheelchair without the fear of falling out.”


Our Youth Investment Fund grant will radically change and enhance our offer to young people. The impact on our small charity will be transformational. The Cowshed is a great example of co-production, its style, look and feel reflect what young people have told us. It’s a place they can call their own. Vitally, the generous funding means we can support more young people, and give them new opportunities to grow, develop and have fun. As one of the young people said, The Cowshed will be a skylight to the stars.

Kelly Coates
CEO for Projects4Change

The Cowshed will enable Projects4Change to support more young people, diversify their offer and bring in more revenue by offering the space to businesses and voluntary sector services in the local area.

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