Success of Matlock church project could pave way for new youth centre

The Lime Tree Youth drop-in service. The centre boasts youth activites such as table tennis and pool.
The Lime Tree Youth drop-in service. The centre boasts youth activites such as table tennis and pool.

A Matlock youth service which launched last year is already showing signs of success which could justify its manager’s big ambitions to expand the project.

Church in the Peak began offering a weekly drop-in session at its Lime Tree Road site just before Christmas, welcoming young people from the Hurst Farm estate.

Youth worker Emily Currell with service user Polly Kopjas.

Youth worker Emily Currell with service user Polly Kopjas.

Lead youth worker Emily Currell, 26, has been thrilled by the response so far.

She said: “We have got quite a few kids from the estate coming in and we have been able to build relationships. It’s amazing to see how they have developed in confidence already.

“At the moment we are only running sessions on Tuesdays, between 3.30pm and 5pm, but they have asked if we can do more. It’s definitely something we want to do if the numbers make it sustainable and we can get a few more adult volunteers.”

The project was under discussion at the church for three years, but it really got started when the church opened its purpose-built Lime Tree building last summer.

Volunteers Bronic Hoon and Zania van Schalkwyk chat with youngsters in the centre's kitchen.

Volunteers Bronic Hoon and Zania van Schalkwyk chat with youngsters in the centre's kitchen.

She said: “I bought a house nearby last year and would always see a lot of the kids hanging around the streets and parks.

“When I was growing up, I was doing that too around Matlock and Wirksworth, but I didn’t want other people feeling like that was their only option.

She added: “We wanted to create a safe space, especially in winter, where they can come and hang out, play games, do activities, drink hot chocolate and have real conversations.

“The biggest challenge was getting the first few through the door but since then it has been really enjoyable getting to know them, and hearing about what’s going on in their lives.

“I’d imagined I might have to be some extroverted entertainer, but really what they want is the opportunity to be around adults simply being genuine.”

The project is mainly funded by the church alongside its other social action work for the young and old.

Since it began, Emily has added youth-friendly furniture, sports equipment, games, and craft resources with grants from Derbyshire County Council.

Emily said: “We are lucky to have fantastic facilities and my big vision is to make this somewhere young people can come every day of the week.”

Emily with Graham Kemp from Hope Design, who designed the new interior of the Lime Tree centre.

Emily with Graham Kemp from Hope Design, who designed the new interior of the Lime Tree centre.