Youth charity embarks on its £2m expansion plan

By Tim Aldred

03 Jun 2024

Boathouse 1

The Boathouse Youth charity has continued to reach new heights since winning the Not-For-Profit Award at last year’s Red Rose Awards and its latest £2.2m expansion plan is now underway.

The charity works with children and young people aged five to 17, from socio-economically deprived communities across Blackpool, to help tackle the challenges they’re experiencing.

Programmes delivered by highly-skilled professionals target key areas: physical, creative and educational activities including centre based youth work, offsite visits and residential experiences.

The organisation also has a specialist programme for children with additional needs and disabilities. The entire offer is fully funded – partly by grants, mostly by generous donors – and therefore free at the point of access.

It’s been an incredible journey for the charity, which launched in 2009 in a church hall. Today, it operates provisions within seven locations, has grown its team to 60 and provides its services to more than 1,000 young people, accounting for nearly 80,000 contact hours each year.

One of those whose life has been transformed through the charity’s work is Josh Fowler, 16, who attends the Grange Park Youth Centre.

He said: “Coming to the Boathouse has really improved my confidence. It has brought together a community of all these young people who are doing something far more with their lives – it’s something better to do than being out on the street.

“The residential trips are also a big thing in Boathouse. It’s nice to take young people somewhere different so they can be something else and have more space.

“It’s a fun and educational environment. It really helps young people, for example with basic life skills such as cooking. For me, building my confidence through Boathouse has been a huge thing – and it helps to have a nice environment to do that in.”

And these are still considered the early years – because the charity has secured the funds to triple the amount of work undertaken as well as expanding its geographical footprint and working towards its ultimate aim that no young person in Blackpool will be more than a 20-minute walk from effective youth provision.

BUILDING A BRIGHTER FUTURE

Having secured almost £400,000 of capital funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Clothworkers’ Charity and Vera Wolstencroft Charitable Trust, the charity will be able to open a new hub in Bispham.

A 25-year lease has already been signed with Blackpool Council on Whiteholme Youth & Community Centre and former Blackpool Rangers Clubhouse.

As well as the ability to reach more young people, the major renovation and refurbishment project will also bring back to life buildings which had been abandoned for a number of years.

Also on the near horizon is the final handover of a brand new, £1.2m facility in Fleetwood, which is due for completion imminently and will provide a range of facilities and youth work programmes that are co-produced with young people themselves.

Thanks to a successful capital grant from the Youth Investment Fund, the charity’s Grange Park Youth Centre has now closed and is set to undergo major renovation works.

This £500,000 project will see it double in size, including extensions on three sides and the launch of a dedicated space for young people aged over 14.

Finally, The Bloomfield Youth Centre, one  of the charity’s existing hubs, has also completed a £50,000 renovation.

PUTTING YOUNG PEOPLE FRONT AND CENTRE

The growth vision put forward by The Boathouse Youth includes more than expanding its footprint, it’s also about delivering a broader range of services for those it works with.

One of the most exciting new projects will be providing career-launching opportunities for local 16-year-old school-leavers.

The charity will invest £200,000 in creating ten Level 3 Youth Support Worker Apprenticeship placements.

For the apprentices themselves, it offers training, first-hand work experiences and an income. They’ll be given all the tools that they need to become confident leaders who will have their say on key matters.

For those that use the charity’s services, it ensures that they are able to meet and interact with trained, enthusiastic and culturally-relatable members of staff.

Laurance Hancock, chief executive officer of The Boathouse Youth, said: “Everything that we do is aimed at enabling young people to lead their best lives. We’re working to improve our range of provision, so that the young people we work with get more out of their partnership with us, but we’re also moving into new areas, so that we can support a greater number of young people.

“We have come a long way in just 15 years but the next few years will be our most exciting yet. We’re thrilled to be able to support 1,000 young people but this next wave of work will triple that – and we can’t wait.

“We’re deeply grateful for all of the public and private sector backing that we have received so far, and we encourage all businesses who would like to support young people in reaching their full potential to get in touch to find out how they can help.”

Businesses can speak directly with Laurance via [email protected]

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