The plans include refurbishing, remodelling and expanding the Ken Acock Youth and Community Centre, Northolt, so that nearby Belvue School can expand into the site, cabinet heard last night (20 January). This will create a much-needed, job-related training base for 14-19 year olds with learning difficulties. If the proposal goes ahead, the courses offered there could include construction, hair and beauty and glass making.
In addition to the Education Funding Agency money, around £480,000 will come from the council to complete the project.
The centre currently has limited use. Youth sessions take place there just two evenings a week. If the plans go ahead, there may be the opportunity for the building to continue hosting evening youth sessions once work has finished. Youth sessions will continue to run from other locations in Northolt throughout the build. Visit www.youngealing.co.uk/northolt for more information.
A private nursery also uses the building in the morning and the council’s play service runs a holiday play scheme from the site in the summer. The nursery will not be able to continue using the site if the plans go ahead and staff from the council’s early years team are looking for alternatives for parents.
Councillor Binda Rai, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Ken Acock is not used to its full potential at the moment, but with this investment it can become so much more. Most people with learning difficulties want to work, but they are greatly under-represented in the workforce. There is a pressing need for more training and support as people with learning difficulties reach the last years of school and the creation of this new vocational centre will help them to gain the skills they need to move into paid work.
“We will be consulting with residents, users and their families before we make a final decision and a consultation will start at the end of the month. I hope that people will come forward and tell us what they think of this exciting proposal.”
For more information on advice, support and activities for young people in the borough, go to www.youngealing.co.uk