For the last twelve years I have been pleased to serve as a trustee of the Folkestone Youth Project and to support the work delivered by its committed team of youth workers, led by Ruth Tyler. The Youth Project developed a strong following particularly among young people living in the eastern part of Folkestone and the harbour area, and I believe it is important that this work should continue.
The project was first delivered from an old warehouse in Folkestone harbour, hence its nickname of ‘The Shed’. The skateboard and BMX park next to the warehouse were an attraction for young people, and helped to reduce skateboarding in particular, in other parts of the town. Alongside these recreational facilities, the youth worker team also delivered a wide range of educational and training courses. After the original Shed was condemned after storm damage, the Youth Project raised money to deliver its indoor and classroom activities from portable units. We were very grateful to Sir Roger De Haan and the Folkestone harbour company for letting the Shed use this site for so many years. We always knew though, that when the ground preparations for the Folkestone Seafront development started, the Youth Project would have to move.
Since last summer, the Trustees of the Youth Project have been working with Ruth Tyler, to try and find a new site for The Shed. We have been very grateful as well for the advice we have received from Shepway District Council in this regard. The process identified some land on Bradstone Avenue in Folkestone, next to the railway viaduct, which is owned by Network Rail, but is not currently being put to use. I am delighted that Network Rail have agreed to make this land available for the Folkestone Youth Project, so that our work can resume at that location. Network Rail have also generously agreed to lease the site to us at a discount to their normal commercial rates, and we are very grateful to them for this. The proposal is to move the portable buildings previously used by The Shed in the harbour to this site. The land around these units can also be used for other outdoor activities. We are not planning to re-establish the skatepark in Bradstone Avenue, as there is not the space to do this, and the location is also just a short walk from the urban sports centre which is being developed at the junction between Tontine Street and Dover Road. We have also been very grateful for the support for the Folkestone Youth Project from the local county and district councillors, David Monk, Claire Jeffrey and Dick Pascoe. I hope that we will soon see the Shed back up and running and working to support the young people of east and central Folkestone who so value everything that Ruth and her team have delivered for them. Please let me know if you have any questions about the future of the Folkestone Youth Project, or if you would be interested in helping and supporting it in any way.