Princess Royal to open new YMCA Youth Campus in Stoke-on-Trent

35 years after her father, the Duke of Edinburgh, opened the YMCA’s Edinburgh tower on Harding Road, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent the Princess Royal will will officially open North Staffordshire’s new YMCA campus on Friday.

The £9.5 million campus provides first class learning and sports facilities along with new independent living apartments for young people who are ready to move on from the YMCA hostel accommodation. Continue reading

From YMCA to FM to make voices heard

A new online community radio station, run voluntarily by young people from North Staffs YMCA, has been launched in Hanley.

Knot FM began broadcasting on March 4 this year, as part of the YMCA’s One Big Sunday, and is based at Edinburgh House, Harding Road.

The radio station is run predominantly by people living at North Staffs YMCA, whose responsibilities range from presenting radio programmes, to sound editing and organisational roles. Continue reading

New YMCA Youth Campus Opens

The new £9.5 million state of the art YMCA Youth Campus which represents the start of a new era for the YMCA and the people who use its facilities opens to the public this morning.

The complex provides first class learning and sports facilities along with new independent living apartments for young people who are ready to move on from the YMCA hostel accommodation. The sports centre and conference facilities are fully open to the public.

Danny Flynn, Chief Executive of YMCA North Staffordshire, said: 
For some years now the YMCA in Stoke-on-Trent has been moving from an accommodation service to a development service.
This new complex will change the whole feel of our service and allow us to bring hope to scores of young people who may have not had the best starts in life.”
The Youth Campus – next to the YMCA’s Edinburgh House tower block, in Harding Road, Hanley – will benefit city residents as well as people being looked after by the YMCA.
The youth Campus which has been designed to meet the highest environmental standards, with innovations such as rainwater harvesting to flush toilets and low energy lighting, was funded by the Government’s myplace programme following a bid by Stoke-on-Trent City Council on behalf of the YMCA.
The Youth Campus includes:
A library
A learning zone
Meeting facilities
A gym
Large sports hall
A climbing wall
Danny said
The facilities will be open to the public and we have had interest from sports teams who need facilities for winter training.
Members of the public will be able to enrol as gym members, so I am sure our facilities will be well used by residents living in Hanley and Shelton.
By inviting the public in, we aim to make the YMCA a hub for the whole community and to raise awareness of the work we do to help young people build a better future.
The new accommodation block has been built by Seddon Construction in partnership with Streif Sustainable Building Systems. All excavated materials have been reused on site and all timber has come from sustainable sources.

Stoke-on-Trent YMCA Complete Multi Million Pound Development

YMCA North Staffordshire is putting the finishing touches to its new £9.5 million Youth Campus complex in Harding Road, Hanley. The new YMCA development will provide sports and leisure facilities for Stoke-on-Trent residents including the area’s tallest climbing wall.

Danny Flynn, Chief Executive of the YMCA North Staffordshire, said

While many people see the YMCA as a place for young people to come seeking help they perhaps do not realise that the new complex will provide high quality sports facilities for all. There are three new developments – an apartment block, education and meeting facilities and an activity centre. “This includes a large sports hall, gym and a climbing wall. The 11 metre high wall has been built into the newly developed sports centre at the YMCA Youth Campus. Membership packages are available for the gym. People will also be able to pay to hire out facilities such as the sports hall and outdoor all weather pitch.


Adrian Tilstone, Activity Centre Manager, said

Features include fully equipped cricket nets, full sized courts for sports such as badminton and volleyball, and facilities for a wide range of activities such as dance classes, archery and indoor roller skating. The centre also hosts the YMCA boxing club which is fully affiliated with the ABA and is a very popular training facility for local young people. We have already had interest from sports teams who need facilities for winter training. Residents will be able to enrol as gym members, so I am sure our facilities will be well used by families living in Hanley and Shelton and workers looking for exercise facilities close to the city centre. Trained staff will be able to offer tuition on the climbing wall to groups of up to six people. Bookings should be made in advance for groups wanting to use the wall.

The indoor multi sports hall can host a range of activities including football, volleyball, badminton (up to four courts available), cricket nets and archery. The hall’s multi floor system means that it can be used for roller skating, skate boarding and BMX cycling.

The new complex is adjacent to the Edinburgh House tower which has been home to the YMCA since the 1970s. The former multi-sports hall in Edinburgh House has been renovated and is available for hire as a dance studio.

The Youth Campus development, including the sports facilities, is due to open at the beginning of January 2012. The complex provides first class learning and sports facilities along with new independent living apartments for young people who are ready to move on from the YMCA hostel accommodation.

The Youth Campus has been funded through the myplace programme which was run by the Government Department of Children, Schools and Families with support from the Big Lottery Fund. Housing And Communities Agency, Stoke City Council and Northstaffs YMCA.  

The buildings provide first class learning and sports facilities along with new independent living apartments for young people who are ready to move on from the well established YMCA hostel accommodation provided in the Edinburgh House tower block on the Harding Road site. Work on the Youth Campus has been carried out by Stoke-on-Trent based Seddon Construction in partnership with Streif Sustainable Building Systems.

Both parts of the new development have been built to the highest environmental standards with innovations such as rainwater harvesting to flush toilets and low energy lighting. All excavated materials have been reused on site and all timber has come from sustainable sources.

I was lucky enough to be given a tour of the new facilities by Danny Flynn last week and have to say I was most impressed, this will be one of the best activity and community spaces in the city once it is launched in January.  As well as all the gym and activity space, there is a large IT suite which is being fitted out this week, meeting rooms and an on site café which will have WiFi and be open to the public, I can reccomend the home made chicken burger and chips!

Boards to Brighten Up Construction At Hanley Fire Station

Local Stoke-on-Trent schools and youth groups are helping to make the construction site for the new community fire station in Hanley look brighter by painting different designs and pictures onto large boards.

The large 8 x 4 metre boards have been provided by the contracted construction company, Thomas Vale.

The Thomas Boughey Children Centre and Kindergarten, Shelton Youth Service, Brighter Futures, Waterside Primary School and The V team at YMCA have all helped to paint the eight panels with artwork to reflect their involvement with the Service.

Rehana Iqbal, Community Risk Reduction Officer for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service said:

“This is a fantastic and fun way to engage with our local community. The community groups involved have had some brilliant ideas and I can’t wait to see the finished art work.”

Rachel Burt, Manager at Thomas Boughey Kindergarten said:

“We were delighted to be invited to participate with this project, the children are very excited about creating their board and can’t wait to see it displayed at the construction site.”

The boards are due to be mounted at the site once building work begins for the new fire station.

To book a free Home Fire Risk Check contact: 0800 0241 999. For all other non emergency enquiries contact: 08451 22 11 55 or log onto: or In an emergency dial 999.

Stoke-on-Trent Cleaner And Greener

Stoke-on-Trent is set to be a cleaner and greener city by this time next week. Stoke-on-Trent City Council is organising the biggest citywide clean up operation in its history next Thursday & Friday (22 & 23 April) for the city’s Cleaning and Greening Days.

Over 500 people will be taking to the streets of Stoke-on-Trent over the 2 days to clean up streets, parks, and open spaces. Around 80 locations around the city have been identified and will be targeted.

Over 300 staff from the city’s environmental services team and the Future Jobs Fund will be joined by over 250 community and private sector volunteers from organisations such as Michelin, Seddons, JCB, Amey, Highways Agency, Community payback, Schools, Groundworks, Love Stoke, Staffordshire Fire Authority,, Business in the Community, CSV , Youth action, British waterways, YMCA & Local Community groups/Residents Associations. Together, they will be working from 7am until 7pm to clean up the city’s streets, parks, open spaces and town centres.

Chief Executive John van de Laarschot will be visiting one of the clean up sites on the day, and said, ‘This is about making Stoke-on-Trent a place that can stand up and say “Ëœwe have clean and green streets for everyone in the city’ and showing the community we are committed to keeping things that way. It should be the start of a series of events that gives people confidence in the city council to keep the city looking good and making sure we care for our environment. Once Cleaning and Greening Day is done, we want to hear from people who have spotted areas around the city that do need tidying up. We want people getting involved, telling us where their hotspots are and what needs to be done.

We want people to feel part of this and take real pride in their city by volunteering to help our teams and working with us to address the real problem areas where they are. Residents now need to do their part to make sure Stoke-on-Trent stays clean and green. We need people to stop throwing litter out of cars, stop getting rid of sweet wrappers, cigarette ends and crisp packets when they are walking on a pavement, and stop fly tipping because they think it’s the easy way to get rid of waste. We can’t afford to let this keep happening if we want to clean up our city. The city council can only enforce what we see, it’s up to the people who live and work here to change the culture and take responsibility for their actions when it comes to their environment. Our main aim is to get the city council, all our partners and the community working together to make the city a better place.’

Bhatti Goes Boxing

Conservative PPC for the hotly contested Stoke-on-Trent Central seat Norsheen Bhatti spent some time training with 10 – 18 year old boxers at the YMCA in Hanley.

Norsheen said, ‘So far in this election campaign, this was one of the best times I’ve had. It was great to see all children of all ages, of all cultures come together and play a sport which they are so passionate about.

It is also encouraging to see how people (the adults running the club) in our community give up their spare time to work within the Community and is just like the social and community activity which David Cameron and the Conservatives will encourage, support and want to see more of.

The boxing club is a fantastic way in which the young boys keep out of trouble, keep off the streets and learn about respect, responsibility, giving them a goal, something to work towards. We in Stoke should be proud of the YMCA boxing club, especially as the club has cultivated our youths talent and some of the boys are even going on to compete in regional and international competitions and winning!’

Over the weekend Norsheen was out and about in Hanley bus station and in the shopping centre telling people about the Conservative reform plans to make the changes the NHS needs.

As the party of the NHS, Conservatives will never change the idea at the heart of our NHS ““ that healthcare in this country is free at the point of use and available to everyone based on need, not ability to pay. Labour promised to save the NHS but today, despite the massive increase in spending, the gap in health outcomes between the UK and the rest of Europe has actually widened.

Commenting, Norsheen said, ‘When you’re more likely to die of cancer in Britain than most other countries in Europe ““ and when the number of managers in the NHS is rising almost three times as fast as the number of nurses ““ the question isn’t whether the NHS should change, it’s how the NHS should change.

We have a reform plan to make the changes the NHS needs. Our reform plan, detailed in this Draft Manifesto, is based on the methods of the post-bureaucratic age ““ decentralisation, accountability and transparency.

Only by voting for the Conservatives on May the 6th in Stoke Central will we see the changes our city desperately needs.’

Simon Darby On ‘That’ No-Show At The Youth Hustings In Hanley

Audio Interview With Simon Darby Online Now!

Many people have commented and given their opinions on BNP Candidate Simon Darby’s no-show at the Youth Hustings event at the Victoria Hall in Hanley last week.

Today we can bring you an exclusive Audio Interview with Simon Darby and get his side of the story.

The YMCA/Sentinel organised Youth Husting was a massive success.

The hustings was brilliantly Chaired by the Sentinel’s Editor-in-Chief Mike Sassi who made sure that all the panelists got a fair hearing and were given equal time to respond to the questions posed.

The audience made up mainly of young people between the ages of 16 – 25 grilled the panel on a wide range of topics and were widespread in their condemnation at the BNP Deputy Leader’s failure to turn up.

Simon Darby claims that he did turn up at 17.45 and sat in his parked car opposite the Victoria Hall. He also claims that he met up with Stoke BNP Leader Michael Coleman around 18.00.

In this exclusive Audio Interview, Simon Darby gives his reasons for not going into the venue and also tells us his views on the event, it’s organisers, the Sentinel, the Police and what life would be like if he were successful in his bid to take the Stoke-on-Trent Central Seat.

His also gives us his thoughts on Mark Fisher, the Labour Party and Alby Walker who he claims may not stand after all.

The Audio is in 2 parts and lasts for around 15mins in total. So make a cuppa sit back, relax and listen……..


Youth Hustings event a great success

Last night I attended the Youth Hustings event organised by the YMCA.

Firstly I’d like to congratulate Nicky Twemlow of the YMCA for organising such a great event for the young people of the city.

The night provided a few surprises, not least the amount of young people who actually turned up. There were far more youngsters there than I expected. In a city that’s supposed to be full of political apathy, these young people demonstrated passion, commitment and most of all, the need to carve out a bright future for themselves and the City.

The Panel consisted of the usual political suspects ““ Rob Flello MP (Labour), Norsheen Bhatti, Conservative PPC, Dr Zulfiqar Ali, current local Councillor and Lib Dem PPC, Matthew Wright representing the TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) and also a PPC, and Professor Mick Temple, who described himself as a “Political Scientist”. The notable absentee was Simon Darby of the BNP, who had the previous day confirmed his attendance but then didn’t show up. I’ll leave it to you to make your own mind up about that one, the young people certainly did.

The Panel were excellently chaired by Mike Sassi, Editor of the Sentinel, who kept the whole thing ticking over and kept the politicians in check, allowing plenty of time for questions from the students themselves. I have a sneaky feeling Mike actually enjoyed the whole event!

Question topics ranged from regeneration and boarded up houses, minimum wage jobs, Higher education tuition fees, public transport, job availability for young people, and even how to fill the leadership void in Stoke on Trent (a great question!)

The one thing that was annoying was the fact that all the politicians at some point turned it into a “party political broadcast”. You could feel the atmosphere in the room change, as the young people switched off. If only they could have kept to the point and engaged with the young people about what’s important to them, it would have been an even better event.

Two things really resonated with me. The first was a quote from Professor Temple, the “Political Scientist”, who said he “had no faith in the politicians who represent this city,” and “the third rate people who stand for councils”. After being pushed on this by Mike Sassi, Professor Temple then went on to say that the only hope for this City is for local, community minded people to stand as councillors, people who care about the community and the people within it, rather than party politics. He suggested local community activists against the BSF programme (Trentham, you know who you are!), would make ideal Independent councillors. I found this quite a shock coming from a political lecturer, advocating community politics instead of party politics. What do you think? Is the only way forward for Stoke on Trent ,to rid itself of party politics?

The second thing that really struck a chord was the amount of passion, drive, ambition and commitment some of the young people had. They want jobs, they want a future, they want to be proud of the city they live in and love. The evening ended with a rousing speech by Danny Flynn, Chief Executive of the YMCA, who told the young people to get out there in the community, volunteer, be part of something, and make a difference.

In the words of one young person, “we need to work together to make things better, if we stick together and have one voice, we can make change”. Not an exact quote, but you get the gist.

Well that sounds great, all we have to do now is get the Council to listen and it will all be fantastic!

I look forward to further Youth Hustings events, and congratulate the YMCA on a great job. I hope they organise this on a regular basis, to give more young people an opportunity to debate the things that matter to them.