When Origin Sports moved in to the "Play Barn" at Mill Lane Youth Centre, the building was in a serious state of disrepair. It had no electricity or water supply, the parking lot was overgrown and full of litter, and the building was dirty and unfit for use. Newcastle Council was looking to dispose of the building under its Community Asset Transfer program.
As well as being unsightly and unhygienic, the abandoned youth centre car park was a more serious problem area for the Elswick community. The area was used for fly tipping, and it was also a popular gathering ground for drunks and drug users. The youth centre is located on a road which leads up to the local Asda supermarket, and some shoppers were intimidated by the presence of those large groups of drunken youths.
We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with some other groups that were using the building, including a pro-wrestling group that holds their practice sessions there, and a parkour group called Apeuro Parkour & Freerunning. Together, we cleaned up the building and turned it into a thriving community area which is used seven days a week for sporting activities.
A Team Effort
Cleaning up the youth centre was a huge team effort. We started work on renovating the youth centre in the summer. Many of our members are college and university students, and they gave up their valuable free time to come in to the center and pick up litter, weed the garden, paint, steam clean the floors and power-wash the equipment that had been left in the building. They also worked to repaint several parts of the building using painting and decorating supplies that had been donated at a significant discount by the local branch of Wickes, thanks to the help of another member, Vipin Chauhan.
Since the area has been cleaned up and the facility is now being used by the local community on a daily basis, the area around Sceptre Street looks better and feels safer. We still have a lot of work to do to turn the Centre for Urban Arts and Sports (as the Play Barn is now called) into the kind of facility that our members would like it to be and there are still many basic facilities, missing, such as gas heating, but the centre and the surrounding area have improved dramatically over the last few months thanks to the work of our members.
Young members such as Kevin Ling and Hubert Lebiedzinski (both pictured above, along with head coach Ian Malone), James and Aaron all deserve commending for giving up such a large chunk of their summer for the benefit of the Elswick community. In addition to this work, they also found time to help out with other charitable and community projects in the north; such as the shows produced by the non-profit organization South Shields Fighting Fit, and the more recent Teesside Grapplethon, which raised money to help 4Louis, a charity which helps parents that are suffering following the trauma of stillbirth or neonatal death.
Plans for The Future
Our work in the area is just beginning. Our member base includes people of all ages and abilities, and we would like to support those members as they pursue their goals, whatever those may be. We would also like to introduce more people to the joy of sport, working closely with schools in the area to produce confidence-building and anti-bullying programs.