Youth Options awarded million-pound grant to transform services for young people in Southampton 

Youth Options awarded million-pound grant to transform services for young people in Southampton 

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Social Investment Business have announced that Hampshire charity, Youth Options is one of 140 youth projects across England that have been awarded a Youth Investment Fund grant to transform opportunities for young people. 

The transformational grant of £1.2 million by the Youth Investment Fund will be used to refurbish the MP3 Centre in Millbrook, Southampton, increasing provision for young people in the area, as well as local residents. 

Located in the centre of Millbrook, MP3 has previously been a hub of community activity, and used as a starting point for outreach youth work by Youth Options, as well as other youth organisations. However, feedback from young people using the space is that it is ‘’unwelcoming’’, ‘’dead’’ and ‘’echoey’’ and over the years, use of the centre by young people has all but stopped.

Working with Studio Four Architects in the re-design and Q Two Consulting, as surveyors and project managers on the development of the site, the project will see the building transformed into a space that is welcoming and where young people can come and engage in a range of activities. Key elements of the refurbishment will include the repurposing of the sports hall to become a youth space and create a smaller, more welcoming activity room for youth projects, both run by Youth Options and other youth organisations. The rooms will also be available to hire during the day and weekends.  A counselling room will also be available for private conversations, counselling, and sexual health clinics. The building will also benefit from environmental improvements including the installation of an air-source heat pump, to ensure the ongoing costs of running the building are reduced. 

As part of their Progression work, a community cafe will be opening at the centre that will provide training opportunities to NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) young people. The focus will be on real-world employment experience, food hygiene and catering qualifications. Upon completion of the refurbishment, Youth Options aim to have MP3 once again as a space, full-of-life for young people, as well as provide a sense of community for residents.

Familiar with the area, Youth Options currently deliver street-based youth work at Mansell Park and Redbridge area and have done for many years. Running every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 5:30pm – 8pm, their youth support workers see up to 150 young people a month, engaging and building trusted relationships. Youth Options hope with being able to offer an indoor space for young people, these numbers will increase. 

Youth Options CEO, Madeleine Durie said: ’”Youth Options put children and young people at the centre of all that we do. The Youth Investment Fund will transform our space, creating a safe haven for young people in Southampton. Our vision for supporting children and young people to reach their full potential and improve their chances in life through quality youth work will have a massive boost thanks to this exciting project.”

The project aims to be completed in autumn 2024. When fully open, Youth Options hopes that there will be activities for young people at the centre five nights a week, with targeted youth projects and the community cafe open during the day.


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