There’s heaps of potential within Friar Park Millennium Centre, but who’s going to harness it?
We met centre manager, Anam Choudhary, outside the Friar Park Centre in Wednesbury:
“This is it, there’s a lot of space. We’ve a lot of vacant offices and premises. What we’re lacking is innovation and creative projects, if we don’t create good projects, we can’t bring money in.”
It’s true, the centre is a maze of empty classrooms, sports halls and activity space just screaming for attention.
Friar Park Millennium Centre were awarded a grant of £5,000 from the #iWill Fund to give opportunities to young people in the local community.
“A lot of the time the staff at centres don’t really know what community development or project planning is. This means they’ve to rely on consultants, that’s a lot of money.
“We think the best way to fill up this centre is to empower the youth. We want to give young people that training because they’re going to be the future of this centre.”
The grant has paid for training from Extra Thinking Capacity, a local Community Interest Company that supports young people in creating, and delivering, sustainable community projects.
Rohim Mohammed, Director of Extra Thinking, said:
“We’ve been working with the guys here at Friar Park because we realise that this is an area that needs intervention, support and community work.
“These guys love this area, they put so much in through volunteering and we want to give them something back so that they can run their own projects.
“They put their life and soul into this, I was so inspired by their story and on the first day I said we need to do something.”
Kerry is benefitting from the training and has ideas for the community, she said:
“We already volunteer for the youth club and it’d be nice to get more people involved. We’ve sorted what we’ve already got locally and come up with some ideas that’d help.
“We want somewhere where both generations can come and get to know each other.”
An idea that fellow volunteer Josh supports:
“The biggest issue here is lack of communication, not everyone round here sees each other as family. People don’t talk to each other and it’s important that we break that barrier.”
The training is having the desired effect as Kerry and the team are finalising the final touches of a community cinema group:
“We’ve the skills between us, it’s just about bringing them together. The training has shown me the skills and the potential that I have.
“They’re giving us the knowledge so we can produce our own groups, it’s thanks to them! They give us the means.”
The #iWill Fund is an England wide programme that aims to make social action part of life for as many 10 to 20 year-olds as possible by the year 2020.
If you’re interested in how you can do more locally, then please click here.