New youth hub opens doors in historic Perth church building

17/05/2024
Ambitious redevelopment of St Andrew’s and St Stephen’s Church will see 2000 young people benefit from new community space

A NEW state-of-the-art youth centre has opened its doors to the community, following an extensive £6M project to transform a vacant 130-year-old church building in Perth city centre.

The Y Centre – run by YMCA Tayside – has been designed with input from the young people who will use it, offering a safe space for people aged eight to 25 and saving two derelict historic buildings from demolition. The aim is to create somewhere for people to go, where they will have something to do and someone to talk to, as well as offering opportunities to learn new skills and develop confidence to help them to succeed in life.

The main youth centre will be split across three floors of the striking church building on Atholl Street, including a digital skills hub, drop in space, ‘The Well’ social enterprise shop, gaming zone, a gym, facilities for craft workshops, and quiet areas. An outdoor courtyard will soon include a garden area, centred around a restored historic well, while local coffee supplier, The Bean Shop, will be helping with barista training for young people with hot drinks sold via the onsite shop.

Transition and emergency housing has also been developed as part of the project, with a £300,000 loan from responsible finance provider, Social Investment Scotland (SIS), helping towards the provision of seven flats to help prevent homelessness. This is the first time accommodation has been offered by the charity and is designed to help young people with the transition from supported and care provision to independent living.

Funders of the wider Y Centre regeneration project include The Gannochy Trust, Perth and Kinross Council, Scottish Government Regeneration Fund, Perth City Heritage Trust, The Robertson Trust, The Northwood Charitable Trust and The Forteviot Charitable Trust – in addition to many smaller funders and individual supporters.

The new centre will see up to 2,000 people per year benefit from the support on offer, while also serving as the new headquarters for the YMCA’s team of 15 staff and 70 volunteers.

Jill McGrath, CEO of YMCA Tayside, commented: “The Y Centre has been a project that’s been years in the making, so we are thrilled to get to this point where our vision has come to life and the local community can start to reap the rewards of all that it offers.

“Young people have many strengths and have so much to contribute, but sometimes need extra support to find their path in life, so it was crucial to include them in the design and development of the new space. They told us what they wanted to see in the Y Centre, and we listened.

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve been doing exclusive preview tours with young people, showing them how the space has transformed into all they had envisaged and a place they can call home.  Hopefully, a centre that they’re going to want to spend a lot of time in. We can’t wait to see the impact that it has on their lives.”

Chris Jamieson, head of investments at SIS, added: “YMCA Tayside is an incredibly impactful organisation helping young people with work, services, support and more in the local community. Our role in helping to fund the development of its new temporary accommodation could be life-changing for young people making the transition to living independently. The Y Centre is such an impressive project to have played a part in and it’s fantastic to see the redeveloped centre now ready for use.”

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