An exciting new chapter is opening for Hailsham Youth Service following the recent purchase of new premises by the Town Council and relocation of the youth service's operational centre.
In recent months, youth service managers have been assessing the viability of moving the Service's base from 1 Market Square to the recently vacated Free Church site in Western Road. Due to population growth in Hailsham coupled with the needs of an expanding service for young people, the decision was made by town councillors in January to go ahead with the purchase of the building and associated land.
Hailsham Youth Service (HYS), which this year celebrates 25 years of effective operation in Hailsham and Hellingly, has had an impact on the lives of thousands of young people and grown from one operational base at 1 Market Square into an expanded service which operates throughout the local community.
The service, which is funded and managed by the Town Council, provides activities, support services and opportunities for young people in the local area and operates the Square Youth Cafe, Hellingly Youth Hub and Monday Youth Hub sessions on weekdays, in addition to organising free and low-cost activities at various locations as part of the ‘Friday Night Project'.
The service also operates a detached (outreach) service on weekday evenings, as well as offering information, support and advisory services for young people experiencing a range of issues such as those relating to mental health, sexual health and unemployment.
One particular aspect of the service's growth is the decision by the Town Council to move to the new operational centre, which reflects the changing expression of youth work locally and nationally – and provides a better resource to meet the developing needs of a growing town.
Considering the lack of space available at the current centre situated in Market Square, the level of need, alongside the success experienced at the Service's externally hosted hubs, has resulted in the current site being widely considered unsustainable. The new site in Western Road will help to meet the needs of not only an expanding service, but a growing population in Hailsham.
The new centre is considered suitable due to its close proximity to the town centre, recreation ground and nearby car parks (allowing the Youth Service to stay at the centre of the community), high accessibility levels with disabled access provided and spacious two large halls to be purposed for individual uses and side rooms which can be used for smaller groups or individuals.
Offering nearly 400m2 of space, the site is also intended to become a centre for the wider community with possibilities including private hire for community groups and professional services, helping to raise finance for youth projects.
It is proposed that the ground-level main hall is to be transformed into a lounge-style space for young people, with comfortable seating areas and facilities such as a pool table, air hockey and other activities to be installed in central areas. The upper-floor hall is to be converted into an indoor sports area incorporating football, basketball and indoor cricket as well as other hard surface activities such as roller-disco.
Payment of the full cost of the property in Western Road has been taken from the Town Council's Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds.
“This is fantastic for the youth service, but more importantly the young people who use our facilities and engage in our organised activities,” said Youth Service Manager, Andy Joyes. “The relocation of our centre in Market Square to the new operational facility will completely transform the Service, making better use of space, establishing a much more welcoming environment and empowering us to provide an even wider range of activities and support to young people in Hailsham and surrounding villages.”
“It is vital that young people in our town have a fit for purpose space that they can call their own, where they can meet other young people, socialise and make new friends, engage in lots of activities and learn new skills, as well seek support from our range of advisory services when they need it from members of our youth service team.”

"I'm looking forward to completing the move to our centre in the coming weeks, this year itself being a very special one for Hailsham Youth Service which celebrates 25 years of dedicated operation.”

Councillor Kelly-Marie Blundell-Smith , Vice-Chair of the Assets Management Committee commented: “We are delighted to be investing in Hailsham Youth Service, which is highly rated across the county. The new building will help us reach out to even more young people across the town providing opportunities, activities and safe spaces.”
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