A search has begun to find a building which could become a hub for young people in the centre of Reading.
No 5, a charity offering counselling and mental health services to those aged 11-25, is leading a drive to find a site which can be used by itself along with Starting Point Reading, which offers mentoring for the same age range, and Reading FC Community Trust which works with disadvantaged young people.
No 5, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, is currently leasing a Grade II-listed former GPs’ surgery at 101 Oxford Road which, the charity says, has met its needs well but the building has been sold to a developer. No 5 has until October 2023 to vacate it and sees the enforced move as an opportunity to partner with complementary services to create a central base in Reading for young people.
No 5 would make the site its home while Starting Point Reading would be involved in delivering activities and services and the Reading FC Community Trust would use it as a town centre delivery site.
With help from its funders, No 5 wants to buy a building but would consider renting. The charity hopes a property owner may help with a favourable deal.
Carly Newman, operations and relationships manager, said: “We’ve been in Reading for 50 years, we are saying ‘help us be here for 50 more years’.”
She said No 5 is seeking premises which can match its existing facilities with:
- Between eight and 10 consulting rooms (for No 5 to use between 4pm and 9pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 1pm on Saturdays)
- Two offices, each for five staff or one larger office
- Reception/counsellor and staff room space
- Training room big enough for 40-50 delegates (minimum 30)
- Meeting room big enough for 15 people
- A large activity space
- Kitchen and toilets
It would need to be accessible to cater for those with disabilities and consulting rooms would need a level of soundproofing. No 5 says it is keen that its new home meets sustainability requirements.
Miss Newman said: “We want to give people a space they can be proud of and the community can be proud of. It’s very important. They deserve something they can take ownership of.”
No 5 says The Maltings, once occupied by Loch Fyne restaurant, is similar in size to what it seeks. However the ground floor of that building has now been let.
Director Alyson Wylding said No 5 would like to expand its services. It currently has 57 volunteer counsellors and 10 staff (seven full time equivalent roles) but is seeking to employ professional counsellors in future.
Lockdown meant No 5 had to put services online but it also led to a backlog of almost 600 young people now on its waiting list.
Ms Wylding said she hopes to create an income stream at a new hub by sub-letting space and, by providing a wide range of services, young people would feel more comfortable using the building.
“If the front is generalised and normalised for young then it could be in the high street,” she said.
A name and logo for the new hub is likely to be created by the young who use the services.
Contact: Alyson Wylding on email@example.com or 07713317142.
Image (l-r) shows Alyson Wylding and Carly Newman in the garden of No 5’s current home in Oxford Road.
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