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Plans for youth café progressing 29 July 2009

THE proposal by the Youth Service for a youth café in Douglas, next to the Bus Station in Lord Street, has received a boost with planning approval being gained.

The building is to be leased to the Department of Education by the Department of Tourism and Leisure, which previously used the premises as the Travel Shop.

Voirrey Kennaugh, a Youth Officer, has been visiting the Douglas secondary schools to talk to pupils about the project and to find out what style of layout and furniture they preferred.

She said:

‘They were very excited about the youth café and had lots of interesting opinions. With their help we have now chosen colour schemes and finishes and it’s hoped that the conversion work is going to start in early September. The roof will need to be completely refurbished and the internal layout changed drastically. The café will be fitted out with up to date equipment such as computers, TV, audio and lighting that can be changed to create different moods.’

Like other Youth Service projects, the café will be managed by young people with support from trained youth workers.

‘By sharing responsibility with young people,’ said Mrs Kennaugh, ‘we can be sure that the project will evolve in ways that meet the needs of teenagers on the Island.’

The café will also be a place where young people can access information about places to go and things to do on the Island and seek support from youth workers if required. Mrs Kennaugh said:

‘Young people have told us many times that a facility such as this is needed, where they can have fun, relax with their friends and not worry about taking too long to drink their coffee.’

In a recent survey, young people also said that they like having supportive adults around. As one commented: ‘What we want is a place where we can go that’s open after school, that you can go to and order a coffee, sit and do work or just chat comfortably when the weather is bad, or maybe even watch a film. We need somewhere that’s ours.’

Graham Cregeen MHK said:

‘As a member of both the Department of Education and the Department of Tourism and Leisure, I am pleased we have been able to bring this project forward for the benefit of the young people of the Isle of Man. It was opportune that, as the Youth Service searched for a suitable town centre property, we were able to identify the former Travel Shop, which is in the DTL’s ownership, and this avoided the expense of purchasing or leasing a property, with all the associated costs.
‘This is a good example of Departments working together and I am delighted that the young people themselves are going to be guiding this project forward so that the facility will provide a focal point in the town centre for them.’

The café is expected to be open by December. The Youth Service is advertising for a full-time youth worker to lead the project and will be looking for part-time staff shortly.

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