After more than a decade of planning, consulting, designing and fundraising, Sussex Community Development Association (SCDA) are proud to announce the completion of the build of a dedicated youth centre in Newhaven, East Sussex in April 2020. The only dedicated purpose built youth space in the town.

A dedicated youth centre has been asked for repeatedly for many years by local young people. Through SCDA and Newhaven Young People’s Forum Annual Youth Survey, young people continuously reported:

We need more places where we can feel safe.

Most recently, young people have responded to the survey with feelings of displacement in their local community:

Teenagers are seen as doing something wrong by being in the town centre in groups, but there’s not many indoor spaces for young people.

The irony is that many young people feel like they are seen as troublemakers or likely to cause or create risk within the community, but consistently feel unsafe themselves. Safety within the local area was consistently an issue that young people voiced concerns about in the Annual Newhaven Youth Survey 2019. The hope is that the youth centre with provide, not only a safe space for young people, but greater opportunity for intergenerational connection that will encourage greater feelings of cohesion and community belonging amongst the youth and older community.

Members of Newhaven Young People’s Forum have contributed to the design of this unique building for future generations of young people, who will benefit from a dedicated, open-access safe space. There will be a wide range of activities provided within the space, including music, art, mental health and wellbeing support and Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) services. All existing youth provisions provided by SCDA within the local area will be centrally provided from Newhaven Youth Centre as a hub of youth activity, including partner provisions, such as i-Rock!

Funding was successfully secured to make this exiting project a reality from Big Lottery Community Fund which together with funding from LandAid and Newhaven Town Council funds, Rampion, Garfield Weston Foundation, Mark Benevolent Fund and Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, plus many more valued and generous donations from local businesses. Application and securing of funds took 2 years in the first instance. This success demonstrates the local and national support for the importance of youth work and a sustainable infrastructure that allows valuable work with young people to take place. SCDA’s youth team and local young people are excited to utilise a space that belongs to the youth community as a safe, creative and relaxing space.

Previous to the build of the centre, we have had to use council buildings that the community can rent. These have served us well for the past 10 years, but have never provided a sense of belonging or ownership to the youth community due to the fact it can be used by all. Furthermore, it has meant that many of our youth club resources have to be transported to and from venues on a weekly to daily basis. By having a dedicated base for all of SCDA, and any other local youth organisations who wish to use the space, provisions, resources and materials can remain in situ for all of our members across the week to use. All of our current and previous members of our various youth services, from clubs to wellbeing programmes and drop-ins, are excited for the prospect of feeling like this building is their space. They will be able to decorate it and use it as they see fit – it should feel as though they’re walking into their own haven within The Havens.