Saturday, 11 February 2012

one for the youth

For one reason or another, my teenage years were mainly spent at Heatham House, one of London's best youth facilities. Now I may be a bit biased considering I spent many years of my early life here and then subsequently went onto volunteer for this wonderful institution, however, the vast amount of young people from within Richmond borough and the hundreds that have travelled from outside the borough to utilize Heatham over the years, speaks for itself.

Set in a stunning listed building in the heart of Twickenham, Heatham House has beautiful characteristics that no other youth club can compete with. As well as the main house which holds areas to hang out, a cafe, a photography studio and a recording studio, there is a huge garden, football pitch, skatepark and walls for graffiti. Heathams facilities are obviously the main reason it has been a successful youth club for years. However the fantastic staff, who I have had the great pleasure to know and work with, really make it something special. 

Unfortunately in times of economic crisis, Richmond council believe Heatham House could be put to better use and are proposing to sell this much loved institution to developers. While they are promising to provide a modern and fully accessible youth facility on the neighboring site of the old post office, many are skeptical about their motives. 

As someone who really benefited from the facilities and support of the staff at Heatham House, the idea of selling it is absolutely ridiculous. Its charm and character make it the perfect place for a youth club so why would you replace it with some generic modern box that looks the same as everything else. And to remove such fundamentally important facilities for young people at a time when they need them the most brings the whole issue of selling Heatham House to the forefront. For me it is a no-brainer. Heatham House is NOT for Sale. 

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