SKIPTON Baptist Church has been awarded £80,000 to refurbish its youth lounge in Rectory Lane, and create a modern, purpose-designed, fully accessible youth hub. The refurbishment will include improvements to the wheelchair access and toilet facilities, replacing the kitchen and upgrading the external doors and windows.

The funding has come from the Garfield Weston Foundation which recently doubled its £5 million capital fund to more than £11 million to support more than 150 charities and community organisations across the UK.

Lisa Holmes, lead minister at Skipton Baptist Church says, ‘It is really important for young people to have somewhere to come that is not in their school, where they gather from different schools and which they feel is ‘theirs’, that they belong and are accepted and liked for who they are, and where they will find help and support to deal with the challenges and issues that come to all teenagers in different ways and at different times. The grant from the Garfield Weston Anniversary Fund will enable us to renovate and update our existing youth lounge and offer a key youth venue near the centre of town, accessible to young people from across the community. The youth hub will be overseen by our youth minister, Matt Smith, a qualified youth worker, to ensure that young people have access to trained people who are able to work with them for a period of time in a safe and attractive environment.’

Matt Smith, Youth Minister said, ‘We are very grateful to the Weston Anniversary Fund for this investment in the young people of Skipton. We will use this opportunity to create a space that meets the needs of today’s youth, within a fully accessible, well-equipped venue. We will be exploring ways to support young people to develop and showcase their interests and talents, encouraging and celebrating the creativity and diversity that young people bring to our community.’

The Weston Anniversary Fund was launched earlier this year to provide funding to charities to improve their existing facilities or provide new ones as part of the Foundation’s 60th year. The Trustees took the decision to more than double the fund after receiving over 2,300 applications, with over 60 per cent from charities that have never applied to them before.

The Garfield Weston Foundation’s director, Philippa Charles, said: “What really impressed our Trustees is the amount of volunteering and community involvement that’s going on across the UK. We heard about so many amazing projects involving local people who are helping their communities thrive - regardless of cuts, Brexit debates and other challenges.

"The response from charities to this new fund clearly demonstrates the voluntary sector is proactive and energetic; far from the complacency it is sometimes accused of.

"Yet we can also see the level of need that exists in our local communities and how much the services charities provide are so desperately needed. The impact of these grants will be significant, with benefits for many people lasting years.”