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‘My children were inspired, excited and had a real adventure’

THE ARCHITECT working on the major redevelopment of the charity Action4Youth’s adventure and outdoor education centre The Caldecotte Xperience is using special insight as he draws up the plans.

Mark Doohan’s three sons have all visited the centre on school trips and with the Ampthill Baptist Youth Group. Now, inspired by his sons’ experiences, the managing director of Benchmark Architects in Milton Keynes is focusing on creating a building “as exciting as the inspiring activities that go on at the Caldecotte Xperience”.

He turned to his three sons – 18-year-old Jonah, Taylor, 17, and their 11-year-old brother Jasper – for their thoughts. “My children’s experience of coming and having an inspiring, exciting time were just not expressed by the building – they were inspired, excited and had a real adventure. But when I came to pick them up, I could not work out easily where to go. It was not either a welcoming or easy entrance to the building – t was hard to even find the front door.”

Action4Youth’s campaign to raise the £1.4 million for the project is well under way. Sustainability is at the heart of the design, says Mr Doohan, and once inside the building will be made totally accessible by removing internal walls, creating all-year-round activity spaces enabling young people to benefit from TCX whatever the weather. Office spaces also will be as accessible and inclusive.

The vision for the main building will give visitors a sense of ‘arrival.’ “A wood facade will make a statement, a feature screen,” says Mr Doohan pictured right. “It will provide a sense of drama as well as leading people easily and clearly to the wider, spectacular entrance.”

He and Ismael Zaman, the architectural assistant working on the project with him, are also exploring sustainable heating, insulation and cooling solutions as well as materials.

Plans for the redevelopment have excited Action4Youth. But have they also excited Mark’s sons? “The kids have seen the plans. They made them remember that when they arrived at the activities, they felt ‘Wow’ but not when they arrived at the building. The plans made them feel ‘Wow’.”

Find out more about the campaign and how to support it at www.action4youth.org


Charity wins new National Citizens Service contract

ACTION4YOUTH has won a sub-contract with Ingeus to deliver the National Citizen Service to young people until 2025. 

The charity has been delivering NCS since 2011 in Buckinghamshire and more recently also in Milton Keynes and Slough. Under the new contract Action4Youth will bring 1,200 young people annually to The Caldecotte Xperience.

The contract for the East of England and East London began in May.  “The new contract means big changes for us,” says programmes director Emily Davis. “NCS used to be delivered only in the summer and Autumn but now there will be a programme every school holiday bar Christmas. Our experienced team will also be delivering social action programmes to hundreds of young people across the South-East of England.”

NCS offers a range of experiences designed to help young people to grow their strengths, boost their confidence, learn new skills, build their resilience, and make new friends.  Since 2010 over 750,000 young people have taken part, completing a total of more than seven million hours of community service.

Many NCS graduates come back to work part-time within the Action4Youth team delivering the programme every year.

This year the residential programme will take place over five days and four nights. Young people will choose from three themes; life skills, employability, and social action. The entire experience costs £95 and bursaries from the NCS Trust enable as many young people to take part as possible. Find out more at www.wearencs.com  

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