Hundreds of visitors drop in at new look Orangbox after £400,000 renovation

Reopening of the Orangebox after its refurbishment
Reopening of the Orangebox after its refurbishment

A new look for a major project for young people in Calderdale was unveiled, with more than 400 visitors dropping in to sample some of what it has to offer.

Calderdale Council has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds refurbishing Orangebox, which re-opened its doors last Friday after four months of work at Blackledge, Halifax, and the borough’s young people were able to reclaim it on Takeover Day.

The council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services, Coun Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge), was one of the guests and said the project had a lot to offer young people.

“I was delighted to attend the launch of the refurbished Orangebox centre, which reopened last week following a £400,000 investment from the council.

“It was a great day and it really is a fantastic facility for young people in Calderdale.

“Over 400 people attended the launch event and took part in a variety of workshops and activities including face painting, music workshops and assault courses,” he said.

Coun Wilkinson said one of the highlights of the day was the Orangebox choir, who performed a number of songs to a “rapturous” reception.

“Everybody I spoke to at the event was really positive about the centre’s future – it will be a hub of activity and support for young people.

“Visitors were particularly looking forward to discovering the options available as part of the ‘youth offer’, using the exciting facilities including the climbing wall and skate park and taking part in the positive activities,” he said.

Cooking workshops, partner stalls and free activities including boxercise and art sessions were some of the attractions and children who are looked after by the council “shadowed” councillors, stepping into their role for the day.

Councillors are set to learn more about Orangebox’s business plan in early autumn.

Last year the council effectively rescued the project, 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.

The Children and Young Person’s Scrutiny Board are set to scrutinise the business plan, which will include details in relation to financial cash flow and income, next month and councillors and co-opted members should also have the opportunity of a full tour of the project following re-opening.

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 the 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.