Town's delight at �4m youth centre

YOUNGSTERS in Suffolk have been given a multimillion pound boost.

Rebecca Lefort

YOUNGSTERS in Suffolk have been given a multimillion pound boost.

The Stowmarket-based XCHANGE youth centre project was awarded �4.75m from the government's MyPlace programme.

The money will go towards creating a large youth hub in the town which will include a multimedia centre, a community radio station, a creative arts zone, a multi use hall with facilities for concerts and performances, an IT learning zone, conference rooms, a community caf�, a training kitchen and a life skills training zone.

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Outside there will be a sports court, horticulture project and barbecue area.

The Ipswich Street centre will also help homeless teenagers by providing an eight-bed emergency assessment and support unit.

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The money, from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, has been given to Suffolk County Council, which will hand it to XCHANGE.

One young person involved in the project, Ryan Neary, said: “I think it is good because it will give us help and support and could even keep the younger people out of trouble by giving us things to do. I'm bored of just sitting around town doing nothing."

Another teenager, Jamie Corby, added: “I think it is great that people are really listening to us. There will finally be somewhere for young people to meet others in Stowmarket to make new friends which I have found really hard in the past.”

Patricia O'Brien, the council's portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, said: "I am delighted that we have secured funding from the government for the XCHANGE project.

“I believe it will provide Suffolk with the kind of flagship youth facility that the MyPlace programme was set up to achieve.

“It will provide invaluable support services, a wide range of leisure activities and learning opportunities, all under one roof. The project is particularly special because Suffolk's youth are at the heart of it.

“We are committed to providing young people with the resources they need to plan and develop their ideas while ensuring this much needed project gets off the ground."

It is hoped the XCHANGE project will be completed and up and running in two years time.

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