The centre, located on the ground floor of the Strand Foyer, sees the coming together of two organisations - The Bytes Project and Apex Housing Association - to support and encourage local young people.
Bytes Northwest will offer a weekday drop-in facility for young people aged 14 to 24 from 10.30am until 5pm, with late nights until 9pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Louise Montgomery, Manager of the Strand Foyer, said: “ The newly renovated ground floor area is now a fantastic open-plan space for young people to enjoy; offering relaxed seating, a modern kitchen, pool table, gaming equipment and streaming services. We look forward to seeing our residents and other young people making the most of the space.”
Louise said Strand Foyer continues to provide support and accommodation to young people aged 18 to 25 and works closely with The Bytes Project and other partners “to provide a range of support, personal development, training and employment opportunities for our residents.”
Michael Mulrine, Programme Manager at The Bytes Project, said: “We are very excited to officially open Bytes Northwest today and know that it will enhance our ongoing work with young people in the city. This new centre will, first and foremost, provide a space for young people to relax in with their friends. However, it may open other doors into education or employment; offer friendships with people from different backgrounds; or ignite an interest in technology and digital skills.”
“Our location is perfect. We’re in the city centre, close to both North West Regional College and the Job Centre, which is ideal. Although we’re currently offering the drop-in service on weekdays only, we hope to extend this to Saturdays very soon. If you’re aged between 14 and 24 and want to know more, just drop in and see what we have to offer.”
Alex Hegarty is a Strand Foyer resident and says the new centre provides a brilliant space for him and other young people to meet and socialise.
“It’s great to see this new space being used by residents and other young people. For me, it gives me a place to go and talk to people my own age; and if I’ve had a bad day, it’s somewhere to go and chill out – maybe play a game of pool. Living in the Strand Foyer has been good for me, it’s helped me become more independent and helped me develop important life skills and build for my future. It’s fantastic to see The Bytes Project right here in the building offering even more important programmes for young people.”
Since opening in 1999, Strand Foyer has supported around 1,500 local young people aged 18 to 25 offering accommodation, training and employment opportunities to prevent the downward spiral of homelessness and unemployment. The Foyer is part funded by Supporting People.
The Bytes Project has been working with the most vulnerable young people in Northern Ireland for nearly three decades. It uses youth work and technology to help young people transform their lives and give them the confidence and skills they need to change the world around them for good. Visit www.bytes.org.