A MULTI-MILLION pound youth complex in Airedale finally opened its doors to youngsters this week.
Young people from across the Five Towns were presented with the keys to The Hut on Kershaw Avenue by Wakefield Council leader Peter Box on Tuesday.
The £5m state-of-the-art centre will offer activities and services for teenagers and includes a four-lane ten pin bowling alley, sports and performance hall, games room, cinema, cyber café, recording studio, outdoor gym and a floodlit all weather pitch.
Liz Firth, centre manager, said: “It’s an exciting time.
“After five years of uncertainty the new centre is finally open, now the hard work begins.
“Although capital funding was available to build the centre, revenue and running costs have to be generated.
“Like any other community group or charity, the centre had to be sustainable, which means certain activities have to be charged for.
“Chrysalis has managed to secure funding to provide free activities during the school holidays for a wide range of ages, while the council’s youth development support services will be providing daily youth provision.
“We hope the new centre will provide a sense of pride in the community.”
The long-awaited scheme by the council and charity Chrysalis Youth and Community Project was funded by a grant from the previous government’s MyPlace initiative.
Original plans for the scheme had included a learning academy, but the plans were axed at the end of 2010 when the Department for Education clawed back £660,000 in funding.
Youngsters helped write the funding bid, worked with architects to design the centre, chose the furniture and worked out how the centre can be used to meet the needs of other young people and the wider community.
Coun Box, said: “This is a great example of the council, voluntary sector, young people and the wider community all getting together to make things happen.
“We want to see The Hut become a base for volunteers and community groups to get new activities for young people up and running across the district – particularly in those areas where there is little for young people to do in the evenings and at weekends.
“Young people will be fully involved in managing the centre, giving them a great opportunity to make their voices heard and show what they can achieve.”
The project aims to bring young people from across the Five Towns together as well as providing a resource for the wider community.
Chrysalis will also host activities and services at the centre – which officially opens in September – including groups focusing on alcohol, pregnancy and sexual health, social skills and healthy eating.
The Hut team will also work in close partnership with schools to provide learning opportunities and are working with bus companies to improve transport links.
For more information or to set up a youth group visit www.thehutairedale.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01977 550250.