From education to employment

Horizon already on side with local young people

WORK has now begun on Grimsby’s much-anticipated Horizon Youth Zone, as construction staff moved onto the Garth Lane site in June.

And, whilst the build work has taken a while to come to fruition, many of the project’s volunteers and staff agree that Horizon has been making a big impression on local young people for many months.

Once a week since 2019, Covid aside, a group of young people have met to discuss their aspirations for Horizon Youth Zone, from the name of the Grimsby project to the logo, and to share their needs and wants for the completed youth centre.  Coming from all walks of life, and all areas of North East Lincolnshire, the young people have discussed their passions and aired their views about what they feel is missing from the local area.

More recently, they have gathered to play outdoor games in People’s Park, followed by a catch up at Grimsby’s University Centre where they discuss the latest developments with the project, and share news of their lives.  The group was also asked to help interview potential candidates for the position of the new Horizon CEO, ensuring that their views were taken into consideration when deciding on the perfect person to drive such an inspirational local charity.

From Cleethorpes, 19-year-old Ibraham, known to his friends as ‘Ibo’, has future hopes of becoming a train driver but was excited to have recently been offered employment in a local factory.  He has been attending the group for the last year, initially being drawn to the project to help make a difference.

He said: “It is exciting to be a part of something this special, and I hope that we can all make big changes as the Youth Zone becomes a reality.

“The project will be for 8-19-year-olds (up to 25 for those with additional needs), so I am at the older end of the scale and will be too old for it when it is finished, but I have enjoyed being a part of the legacy I hope it will leave in the area.”

Thirteen-year-old Jacob joined Horizon when he was struggling with bullying at his school.  He explained: “The group has given me a new confidence and now I feel more able to confront negative situations with a positive attitude.  It has allowed me to be much happier at school.

“It has been nice to make new friends at Horizon, and I have enjoyed helping people out.”

Xander, currently the youngest of the group, only recently turning 13-years-old, explained: “It has been nice to play a part in the creation of Horizon, but for me it has also given me a safe space and something to do away from home.”

All three young people, Ibo, Jacob, and Xander, are soon to be heading off for an exciting, week-long exchange trip to New Bedford, Massachusetts, in the USA, where they will meet other teenagers to learn about the American culture and its values.  Ibo is excited to find out about the massive pizzas he has heard so much of, while Xander is keen to find out what young people do across ‘The Pond’.  Jacob is looking forward to finding out about colleges in the States.

He said: “I am hoping to look at what education is available there, especially when it comes to courses about crime and behind the scenes organisations.  When they come here, we can take them to the docks and talk about the history of the area, which has been a very important part of Grimsby life.”

When their American counterparts head over to North East Lincolnshire they will learn all about life here and visit some of our more famous places and landmarks.  It will be interesting to find out how our Horizon travellers got on in the States, and how their American guests view our small corner of the planet.

Volunteer Kevin Childs, who has been volunteering since the start, in October 2019, commented: “We are on about the third cohort of young people as many of those that took part in the initial Horizon discussions reached the age of 19 and moved on.  As they left, new ones came in at the other end and gave us fresh perspectives.

“We had about 50 young people in a room above Grimsby town’s McDonald’s, at one point, and probably about 12 regulars.  They came from Duke of Edinburgh Scheme, Centre 4, West Marsh, all over the place.  It was great to get their ideas so that we could make sure that what we are building is created by them, for them to use.

“Even at this relatively early stage, and in our current meeting place at the University Centre, we are pulling together young people from across the area and offering them the opportunity for growth, to be themselves, and to try something new.  These are exciting times.”

The Horizon state-of-the-art youth centre is expected to open in early 2025 in the Grade II Listed West Haven Maltings buildings along the River Freshney. It will provide thousands of young people with opportunities to engage in activities, and access support from skilled youth workers.  Members will have access to an indoor climbing wall, a four-court sports hall, training kitchen, music room with a recording studio, fully equipped gym, dance, and drama studio, 3G kick pitch, arts and crafts room, and an enterprise and employability suite.  The centre will cost just 50p per child, per session.

Horizon Youth Zone is being delivered by national charity OnSide, in partnership with North East Lincolnshire Council which is contributing towards the Youth Zone as part of the Greater Grimsby Town Deal. Other key supporters include Historic England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Ørsted, St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation, The Youth Investment Fund and private donors.

North East Lincolnshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children and Education, Cllr Margaret Cracknell, is delighted by the positive difference Horizon is having on our young people – even before its doors open.

“Given support, encouragement and a chance to grow our young people will shine and provide us with real hope for our future here in North East Lincolnshire. It’s clear already that the Horizon project is doing just that. I want to take this opportunity too, to thank all the local groups and organisations that are already doing such good work, which will be complemented by this new centre.”

For more on Horizon go to Home Page – Horizon Youth Zone

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