Originally built as a school in the 1840s, Bishop's Stortford Young People's Centre has been a focal point for the town's young people for over 180 years. Located in the town's conservation area, the building has several historical features unique to its type and period. Services for Young People (SfYP) maintained and enhanced these throughout its refurbishment, while creating a modern venue that can now fully support the needs of local young people today and for generations to come.
Following in depth consultations with young people and several years of planning, the interior has been substantially remodelled and is now light and airy with purpose-built spaces including:
- A life skills training kitchen where up to 12 young people can learn about healthy eating and cooking at six workstations, one adjustable for disabled users
- A music and video production studio with soundproofing, acoustic panels and new equipment for creating video and photographic content
- A multi-use activity hall for indoor sports, drama and events
- A dedicated Access Point Project area for one-to-one information, advice and guidance
- A groupwork delivery space
- A gym with a range of exercise equipment, accessible by a lift
- A communal lounge with table tennis table, movable furniture and storage space
A key consideration of the refurbishment was improving the energy efficiency of the building to reduce future environmental and financial costs. The old windows and boiler heating system have been replaced with replica double glazing and a dual heating and air conditioning unit, creating a more cost effective, welcoming and comfortable environment.
Access to the building has been improved through the installation of a ramp to the front entrance, not only benefitting wheelchair users but also young parents with buggies and prams.
The range of services, projects and opportunities for young people has been considerably enhanced through the improvements made, and with much better use of space, two or three projects can now take place at the same time.
Cllr Paula Hiscocks, Deputy Executive Member for Children Young People and Families, who officially reopened the centre said:
“With sustainability at the heart of Hertfordshire County Council’s agenda, how wonderful to see a building like this being so sympathetically restored… this building and Hertfordshire County Council’s amazing SfYP staff will continue to enhance the lives of young people in our communities. These young people are our future, and I am proud to officially open this centre for their benefit.”
Young people aged 11 to 17 attended a celebration event on Saturday 24 September. They enjoyed trying out the new music equipment, creating artwork for the centre, getting involved in cooking sessions in the kitchen and team sports in the hall. The young people’s feedback on the refurbishment was extremely positive, and they were also asked for ideas on how we could improve the venue even further. Their suggestions will be taken into consideration in the future.
One young person said:
“Today has been very lively and entertaining! It’s so modern now. I’ll definitely be coming back.”
Details of the SfYP projects at the venue can be found here: