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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Mobile youth centre to be rolled out across Cumbria

A youth centre on wheels has proved so successful that it’s rolling out to other parts of Cumbria.

Mobile youth centre photo
The project’s two vans can also be turned into mini buses

The Big White Van is the idea of charity Young Cumbria, which kick-started the scheme across Allerdale after the floods of 2009 destroyed many of the borough’s youth clubs.

It was initially supposed to be a temporary scheme, but because it was so successful another bus was purchased and recently covered the Copeland area.

And there are now plans for the portable youth centre to start in Eden and the South Lakes.

Inside is a seating area with table, desks for three laptop computers, an Xbox, DVD area and audio-mixing equipment. The idea is for the van to stop at rural parks and open spaces where there is plenty of room for sport, as it also carries equipment for football, cricket, netball and rounders. It also doubles up as a minibus, which takes youngsters to places such as the cinema and bowling.

Clare Taylorson, youth and community leader for west Cumbria, said: “We have had a fantastic reception with young people in different rural areas of Cumbria.

“The Big White Van is used in Copeland six days a week and the young people love it. It’s great because we can get to wherever they are, as opposed to them coming to us.

“Wherever they are hanging around, we go to. We also take them to activities as the seats can come out and go back in.

“In Eden, it is very rural compared to Whitehaven and Workington and they are desperate to try and get funding.”

Hundreds of 11 to 19-year-olds have already been using the two vans in Copeland and Allerdale, but charity workers would like to have a fleet of Big White Vans covering the whole of Cumbria.

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