Setting up a Youth Café for Buckingham
For many years, young people in Buckingham have expressed a need for safe, accessible, appealing places to go to after school.
In addition, recent knife crime incidents involving young people have further highlighted how important it is to increase opportunities, activities and resources for young people in Buckingham.
Fortunately, lots of people and organisations are committed to improving things for young people in Buckingham. It is well-recognised among them that new youth spaces, opportunities, activities and resources should always be created with local young people, to make sure they work well for them.
Youth Voice Bucks is working with the Buckingham and Villages Community Board and its partners to ensure young people’s voices are heard in the development of a new space for young people in Buckingham.
Buckingham is a historic market town in the North of Buckinghamshire. At its centre is a high street with lots of cafés, shops, and restaurants. It also has supermarkets, a library, a leisure centre, and historic buildings such as the Gaol. For young people, there are two secondary schools: The Buckingham School and Royal Latin School. It also has parks, including a skate park, and a Youth Centre. Buckingham is served and supported by Buckingham Town Council as well as Buckinghamshire Council.
About Buckingham and Villages Community Board
Community Boards bring the council, groups, organisations and local people together. Their aim is to look at local issues and find ways of improving them together.
Buckingham and Villages Community Board has four priorities, one of which is Youth.
The story so far
Where did the idea come from?
Ever since Buckingham and Villages Community Board was set up several years ago, the people and organisations involved have been interested in supporting local young people.
In particular, a young adult called Hannah, who grew up in Buckingham, joined the Community Board, and advocated for spaces and places for young people to go to after school to be set up.
What is a youth café?
A youth café is a dedicated space for young people to hang out. The space is relaxed, with casual activities such as board games on offer. Refreshments are usually available at low or no cost. Youth cafes can run in youth centres, halls such as church or community halls, or real cafés while they are closed to the general public.
Exploring the idea of a youth café
In January and February 2023, Youth Voice Bucks and the Buckingham & Villages Community Board visited students in Buckingham’s two secondary schools to discuss the idea of a youth café and hear young people’s thoughts and feedback. The key messages received were:
- Young people confirmed that there are very few places for them to go to after school at the moment. Most young people just go home. Some go to cafes and McDonald’s, but then feel under pressure to buy things and struggle with prices.
- The young people liked the youth café idea.
- Students were keen on the idea of having a youth session in a proper café, rather than a hall or an academic space.
- The young people valued the idea of not having the pressure to buy anything, and having low cost refreshments / deals on offer.
- Themes for further discussion arose, such as safety, transport home, and managing behaviour.
- Young people are interested in being further involved in the youth cafe’s development – such as the playlist, advertising, rules, what’s available.
These conversations also showed that it will be really important to work closely with the youth club, so that a youth café offer and the youth club are complementary to each other and both are appealing and well-promoted.
You can read the full notes from these meetings by clicking the buttons below.
Looking for a venue
People working with and for the Buckingham and Villages Community Board then set about to try and find somewhere to host the youth café.
This was very challenging and took a long time! One local café were interested, but then had to make the difficult decision to close down.
Fortunately, the National Trust got in touch. The National Trust look after a building in the middle of Buckingham town called Chantry Chapel. It is the oldest building in Buckingham and used to be a religious building, and now it is a building of community value. The National Trust are currently making it into a real café.
The people at The National Trust said they were interested in inviting more members of Buckingham’s community to come and visit Chantry Chapel, and that they would be delighted to host the youth café there. They also understand how important it is to keep young people involved in the development of the youth café, and are happy to work in creative and interesting ways to make sure the youth café project is successful.
What’s happening now?
We are currently working on:
- Getting youth organisations involved
- Working out how much it will cost and applying for funding
Once we are confident that we have everything in place to launch the youth café, we will make plans to work with the students at Buckingham School and Royal Latin School again to work out the details and get everything set up.
If you are interested in this project and have any questions, please email YouthVoiceBucks@Buckinghamshire.gov.uk.