Once a methodist chapel then a hostel for railway workers, and more recently a museum for Swindon’s railway heritage and for a short while a community meeting hall and art gallery, the old museum on Faringdon Road has reopened as The Platform after a £1 million refurbishment by Swindon Council as a huge youth centre complete with 30 seat railway buffet carriage along one wall.
Dr Schmoo’s Urban Circus held three days of music, dance, recycled art, circus skills and partner yoga workshops in mid-February.
The large main hall will be used for band nights and concerts, arts based events, and there will be an internet cafe and youth support and advice services like Connexions.
Jake the Juggler of Dr Schmoo, who used to run Swindon’s juggling club in the hall before it closed for refurbishment said, “it’s fantastic to back in the old museum. We want to organise lots of activities which give young people a chance to express themselves through music, street art and performance.”
Lottie Mills from Lydiard Millicent said she was glad to see something happening with the building. “It’s good to have a safe place where young people can get together and do things; it’s much better than hanging around on the streets.”
Glenn Bridges, Swindon Council’s business development officer, right, said the building is about developing the aspirations of the young people and handing the reins over to them. “We have a great team and have taken good direction from the young people who want this centre up and running.”
Coun Garry Perkins, cabinet member for children services hopes the building will provide inspiration. “Although this is a centre for young people, the hope is that the whole community will be able to engage with the centre. It such a great building which will give young people inspiration to develop ideas and provide the venue for information, advice and guidance.”
On 10 February the Platform hosted a day for young people not in education, employment or training (NEETS) to provide information on the opportunities open to them under the Government’s ‘January Guarantee.’
This initiative promises an offer of a place on an entry to employment development programme for all young people who are 2008/2009 school leavers and NEET, which may result in an apprenticeship, job with training, or other learning programmes.
In Swindon there are 360 young people who are eligible for the January guarantee, out of 531 NEETS overall aged 16-18.
Organisations at the day included Swindon College, New College, the National Apprenticeship Service, Job Centre Plus, Local Volunteer Centre, North Wessex Training, CfBT Education Trust, Protocol Skills and Key Training Group.
Opening at The Platform on 1 March
Connexions offering drop-in advice and information on education, careers, housing, money, health and relationships opens on: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9.30am to 4.30pm; Wednesday and Friday 9.30am to 3.30pm. For details call 549200