A YOUTH hub providing opportunities to help young people find jobs has opened in a former derelict building.

The centre in Northgate, Darlington, will provide a range of services aimed at helping young people get the skills and qualifications they need to find work.

Steve Winterburn, who runs the Youth Employment Initiative for Darlington Borough Council has been working with the Job Centre and other agencies, including the career service and housing options.

He said: "It's a one stop shop to serve them all."

READ MORE: Community bringing fire-hit building in Darlington town centre back into use

The hub has opened in a former restaurant, which had become derelict and has been brought back into use this year.

It was opened by Geordie Shore star Nathan Henry, who is from Darlington and recently bought his own home in the area.

Nathan, who did hairdressing training with community youth coach Tegan Chapman, who will be based at the Northgate hub, said: “I think it’s amazing. I wish there was something like this for me when I was younger.

“I think it would have helped me. A lot of towns don’t have something like this so it makes me proud of Darlington.”

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He added: “When I was 16 this was a restaurant and now its being used for something amazing.”

Ms Chapman, who is employed by the Job Centre, said the programme was aimed at people who want a job but lack experience and added the first young people will start on Monday.

She said: “I can’t wait to get started. I’ve been painting and decorating and carpeting so now I’m excited to start on what we want to do, which is get young people into work.”

She will be working with young people to help them gain qualifications and skills, find work experience and develop their CVs.

She added: “We want young people who want to come.

“We feel like we might get more engagement in the community, away from the job centre. This is a more relaxed approach – the young people can go into the cafe and go on the internet. But they do have to engage."

“It’s like a one stop shop.”

MP Peter Gibson, who also attended the launch, said: “This is a great initiative bringing agencies together to help young people find employment, training and skills.

"As we emerge from the pandemic its important they have access to that.

"It's easy to access from town and its bringing life back to a historic building. It's good news for Darlington and good news for young people."

Northgate councillor Sajna Ali said: "It's really great. If you think about it is places like this that make a rich tapestry of knowledge and education and it is all around health and wellbeing and getting people to engage through all the service providers.

"The youth initiative is something that's really needed because people are really lost through Covid."

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