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Centre for Leadership Performance Leading Change Programme at SWYP Mirehouse 1 1024x768 jpg


Members of South Whitehaven Youth Partnership’s Senior Youth Club at Mirehouse Community Centre have spoken out about their vision for a safe space in their community.

The young people from Mirehouse described how they used to have safe places to go but these have all been demolished and now there is nowhere for them to meet. They explained that they felt they had lost their social lives and expressed a wish for somewhere safe that they could socialise and have fun.

The group carried out research with their peers as part of the Centre for Leadership’s Leading Change programme. The programme, funded by Cumbria Community Foundation’s #CanDo and Transforming West Cumbria programme (which is funded by Sellafield Ltd.) is designed to support young people to take the lead on encouraging positive change in their communities. The young people attended inclusive sessions twice a week at the SWYP at Mirehouse Community Centre, and worked with Martin Ashfield, one of Centre for Leadership Performance’s associates. Martin facilitated the sessions, helping the young people to develop their leadership skills and providing opportunities for them to have their voices heard on issues that matter most to them. Once they had researched and identified their need for a safe space, they worked with Martin to develop their ideas and presented them to an expert panel of local leaders and influencers.

Panellists included Emma Williamson, Social Inclusion and Community Resilience Team Leader at Copeland Borough Council; Garry McKeating, Head of Community and Development at Sellafield Ltd; David Beeby, Chairman of the Cumbria Community Foundation and recent High Sheriff who focused on supporting Youth work in Cumbria and Rhianna Smith, Early Careers, Project Co-ordinator for CforLP & Chair of BECBC Shadow Board.

Key points in their campaign included the importance of a multifunctional space suitable for all ages; they also covered needs like sheltered spaces and security aspects such as CCTV or wardens.

Martin Ashbridge commented, “The young people at Mirehouse Community Centre were feeling forgotten and unimportant as every space for them to meet and socialise was gone. The Leading Change Programme allowed me to support the group to survey local people, gather opinions of what the young people needed locally, and to present their findings to key leaders including Sellafield and Well Whitehaven. The presentation was excellent, the ideas and needs were recognised and well received. This has led to more work with the team to try and bring their dreams alive. It is a pleasure to work with the young people and help make their opinions matter.”

All panellists were impressed with their presentation and gave critical feedback which the group will take on board for future projects. Martin Ashbridge will continue to work with the group next month and several members of the group have applied for the Positive Enterprise Programme where they could win £1,000 to start up their own business.

Learn more about Leading Change here:

Leading Change is just one of Centre for Leadership’s flagship programmes. The not-for-profit organisation creates and delivers an inclusive ladder of lifelong leadership learning opportunities from Primary to Boardroom, and exists to create Cumbria’s leaders of today and tomorrow.

If you are a business interested in funding or providing expertise to support the Leading Change programme please get in touch with for more information.