YMCA community centre opens in Bridgwater

A £5m community centre designed by young people has opened in Bridgwater.

The YMCA building on Friarn Avenue contains a gym, radio station, climbing wall, a dance studio and IT facilities.

Although primarily aimed at young people, the centre will also accommodate Adult Social Care and weekly bookings from community groups.

The charity's chief executive Martin Hodgson said: "Seeing people use the building now is brilliant. Everybody has walked in and said 'wow'."

He added that the centre offered a massive range of opportunities, and that it was a place where young people could gather and feel safe.

The centre was funded by the government through the Myplace scheme and replaces the old 40-year-old YMCA building next door.

'Astonishing change'

Young people were involved with the building's design right from the start, where they said what they wanted put in, and also chose things like the colour scheme and furniture.

One of the centre's users, 16-year-old Jade Gillard, said: "It's an astonishing change and this can't really compare. The old one was overused."

Kai Archer, 22, said: "It is a big change, there's loads of things for [youngsters] to do."

The YMCA is currently building a £2.1m supported housing facility on the same site, which will see eight apartments, 35 cluster rooms and five shared kitchen and living rooms built. It is due to be completed in March 2011.

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