A YOUTH hub will become the "beating heart" of Leigh for young people, bosses say. 

Ground broke on the project at Leigh Sports Village last February and the hub has now officially opened its doors, boasting two gyms, computer facilities and an "immersive technology" sensory room. 

Young people played pool and table tennis in the common room with council chiefs as town hall leader David Molyneux opened the facility, which is aimed at ‘upskilling’ and training 18 to 25-year-olds this week. 

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Leigh Journal: Young pool players at Leigh Youth HubYoung pool players at Leigh Youth Hub (Image: Wigan Council)

Ben Robinson, member of Youth Parliament for Wigan and Leigh, was instrumental in the design and creation of the hub.

“I’m really glad about how much we have been listened to and how it’s turned out,” the 17-year-old said.

“It couldn’t have turned out better. Young people deserve credit for being brave enough and coming forward to raise issues. Those voices were respected. 

“I’ve not chaired a steering group before, it was like a meeting with professionals. I was treated as one of them.

“The feedback has been amazing but that doesn’t mean we will rest on our laurels. We’ve already got an overspill [of young people subscribing] which is mental. 

“Hopefully it can act as a beating heart for the young people of Leigh.”

Leigh Journal: Ben Robinson, member of Youth Parliament for Wigan and LeighBen Robinson, member of Youth Parliament for Wigan and Leigh (Image: Local Democracy Service)

Plans for Leigh Youth Hub began in May 2021, when 400 young people responded to a council survey and described what they most wanted from a potential new youth facility.

Coun Molyneux added: “It has been an exciting day and it has been a long time coming.

“Our vision for this in Leigh has been there for quite a while and it is something we’ve always wanted to deliver, but in conjunction with young people and what they wanted. 

“It’s no use for us to design something that they won’t use. For young people to be involved from day one, and they have shown their vision for this, and it is something that will stand out in what we can deliver in Leigh for years to come.

“It is not just about sport, it is about having a location where people can come and be comfortable. It is not all about sport, it is about the arts, talking, kindredship and the friendships they will make here. 

“It just feels right. I think young people themselves wanted a facility that had multiple uses in what they’re interested in.

“If they need support, this is a facility that can give them that. Whatever in their lives is worrying them, whether it is future training, we can point them in the right direction.”

Leigh Journal: The sensory room inside Leigh Youth HubThe sensory room inside Leigh Youth Hub (Image: Local Democracy Service)

As well as supervised gyms, and places to get involved in pool, table tennis, art and crafts, and Xbox games, there is computer rooms at the hub, where young people can catch up on their homework in a quiet space.

There is also a separate gym for elite athletes from clubs including Leigh Leopards and Manchester United women’s and under 21s teams, as well as the chance for young people to gain formal qualifications.

Young people will be provided with employment options and regular opportunities to sign up for weekly learning experiences, such as ‘Taste It Tuesdays’, the cookery course currently underway in the full-sized catering kitchen.

Leigh Journal: Councillors marked the occasion by opening the hub with those who will be visitorsCouncillors marked the occasion by opening the hub with those who will be visitors (Image: Local Democracy Service)

Gemma Unsworth, a key player in the design of the hub said it is a "comfortable" and "safe" space. 

“I was someone who was there at the start, we decided what it would look like and what young people would like,” the 18-year-old said.

“I’m on the Youth Voice Board and we listen to what the young people want.

“Everything can still be improved but we are working with young people to find out what they want. We want to get the two sports teams involved with what we do as well in the future.

“It’s just amazing to see how many young people it has benefitted and helped, the other hub is in Wigan so it’s nice to have somewhere we [people from Leigh] can go that isn’t miles away. I’ve used everything we have in here so far. 

Leigh Journal: The hub offers many opportunities to young peopleThe hub offers many opportunities to young people (Image: Wigan Council)

“The gym for example is great as it’s accessible for us all. You have to pay £25 for a gym normally but instead here we’ve got it all and the right people here to help and support us.

“The support worker is always here and is a great help. It makes me feel secure and safe to speak to someone. 

“It’s not like they’re directly asking questions to you. It feels more like a normal conversation.”

The multi-million pound project was part-funded by the Believe in Leigh project; a partnership between Wigan Council, Wigan Youth Zone, Job Centre Plus, and Leigh Sports Village.

Leigh Journal: Young people outside the new hub at Leigh Sports VillageYoung people outside the new hub at Leigh Sports Village (Image: Wigan Council)