Manchester plots modern youth club

By Jonathan Kalmus, September 17, 2009

A meeting space for south Manchester teenagers is being created in an attempt to reinvent the Jewish youth club for the current generation.

The intention is to launch The Hub in large open-plan premises in Hale Barns by November and organisers will leave it up to members to decide how to fill the space. Young company directors and professionals are behind the project and are in final negotiations to lease an 8,000 square foot building. Half the £120,000 needed for the project has been raised.

“We’ll have a huge space to develop, using qualified people to make the right chill out areas,” says IT company director Rachel Mesrie, who chairs the management committee. “Rather than teenagers going into town or Hale village on a Saturday night, we’ll offer them a genuine alternative.”

Management committee member Jamie Moryoussef says Hale, Bowdon, Cheadle and Altrincham have fast-growing Jewish communities without a dedicated place for their youth to meet. “It struck me that there are no facilities outside of synagogues. We conducted a survey of 200 parents and got 99 per cent positive feedback about a youth club.”

An interior designer has been consulted as part of efforts to create the right look. But perhaps as important to The Hub’s success is the support of Darryl Lee, the property developer behind north Manchester’s successful £1.8 million Maccabi centre. On board as a Hub trustee, he says lessons must be learnt from the South Manchester Jewish Youth Trust, a club that was initially successful but closed four years ago. “This has to be a fresh focus.”

Newly hired youth worker Marc Fink is charged with initially filling The Hub with 11-to-13-year-olds who prefer Facebook to face-to-face socialising. The 23-year-old psychology graduate has experience of attracting 200 teenagers to music events during his time as a Habonim fieldworker. But he echoes the view that success will lie in members setting their own social agenda.

Last updated: 2:51pm, September 17 2009