Orangebox youth project set for re-opening after £400,000 refurbishment

Orange Box, Halifax.
Orange Box, Halifax.

A Calderdale youth project is almost ready to re-open following refurbishment and councillors are set to learn more about its business plan in early autumn.

Styled “Takeover Day”, the Orangebox youth project open day will be on Friday, August 9, following a refurbishment which has cost around £400,000.

Last year the council effectively rescued the project, at Blackledge, Halifax, originally established under the “My Place” central government scheme in 2010, with a brief of providing appropriate and purposeful formal and informal activities for young people with a focus on the teenage and young adult age range as a condition of the funding.

The centre was set up with the grant of £3.8 million, awarded in 2011, but struggled to source funding to meet running expenses, most recently being under the guardianship of the Square Chapel Trust.

Members of Calderdale Council’s Children and Young Person’s Scrutiny Board welcomed the news amid a report on the borough’s Youth Service but also sought reassurance over questions of cost, finance and usage.

Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) said a lot of hard work had been put into getting Orangebox up and running again but raised questions about cost and finance.

He wanted assurances that it was going to be well used, he told the board.

“I don’t want to sit here in two years’ time and seeing it failing again, people not using it,” he said.

“Do we have a business plan that is going to work?”

The council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Julie Jenkins, said she was set to submit an update on the business plan for Orangebox at the board’s meeting on September 25.

According to the board’s Work Plan, this will include details in relation to financial cash flow and income, and following re-opening councillors and co-opted members should also have the opportunity of a full tour of the project.

The refurbishment was necessary to bring Orangebox up to standard and enhance the building following the transfer of the building to the council in April.

Changes include an enhanced Youth Works drop-in space, improved rooms for one-to-one consultations, new kitchens to support food technology training, a new floor to the atrium and deep cleaning before opening.The council’s Youth Justice Service and Targeted Youth Work teams will also be based there and Orangebox contains some spaces for rent on longer term or casual hire basis.

In the spring the board was reminded that if the council does not develop the project around £3 million of the Government money would be clawed back and the building “mothballed.”