Earlier this month, almost thirty youngsters gathered outside Wittering Village's newest attraction: The Place at No. Eighteen, a youth drop-in centre part-funded by the RAF Benevolent Fund.
The centre forms part of a safe environment for young people to meet and enjoy an array of activities, from pool and table-top football to computer games and arts & crafts.
The project was led from the beginning by RAF Wittering but the new Youth Drop-In Centre is not just for Service children; it is open to every 11 to 18 year-old in the village. Wing Commander Lizzy Nicholl (then Officer Commanding Support Wing) was the driving force behind the project and, with Community Development Worker Mark Davis, arranged over £40K in funding to completely refit and refurbish the buildings and provide new equipment.
Youngsters from the village led the project and worked together to shape the new centre. "It's brilliant!" enthused Mark. "We worked with the young people of Wittering through every stage and at no point did we ever have to overrule anything they wanted. They were fantastic."
An extended kitchen has been created so young people can gain a little independence by learning to cook for themselves. Likewise, the dedicated music room is an opportunity for young people to develop their musical skills. A meeting hut with outdoor furniture, a picnic area, sports facilities and a raised vegetable garden is outside.
Group Captain Rich Pratley, RAF Wittering's Commanding Officer, commented: "I’ve seen the new Drop-in Centre for myself and the quality of the work is outstanding."
He continued: "The partner organisations in this project have been very generous and talented people have contributed to the Youth Drop-In Centre; it gets a huge thank you from me because this is community engagement at its best."