Youngsters are in Harmony with exciting new project

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A NEW scheme to engage youngsters in a variety of skills from music production to hairdressing has launched in Wigan.

Harmony Youth Project, based in Canal Street, Beech Hill, is a charity aimed primarily at youngsters aged eight to 21.

Harmony Youth Project Wigan, Canal Street:  Charity founder and project manager Charlie Barrett, front right, and centre manager Mark Birchall, rear right, with fellow workers and some of the centre members in the photography studio

Harmony Youth Project Wigan, Canal Street: Charity founder and project manager Charlie Barrett, front right, and centre manager Mark Birchall, rear right, with fellow workers and some of the centre members in the photography studio

It provides extra-curricular activities, focusing on music production, photography, cooking, hairdressing and keeping fit, for youngsters not in education, employment or training (NEET), working in partnership with Newbridge Learning Community School in Platt Bridge, and The Phoenix Centre in Worsley Mesnes.

They can then gain nationally-recognised qualifications.

Similar workshops are also available outside school hours for those in full-time education.

The project also works with Wigan Council’s Gateway and Youth Offending Teams to deliver counselling sessions with youngsters and also looks at teenage pregnancies, substance misuse and sexual exploitation among young women.

Candidates from the Job Centre are also offered work experience as they engage with the youngsters.

Charlie Barrett, founder of Harmony Youth, which began in Bolton in 2001, said: “We have massive aspirations to what we want to do in Wigan, duplicating success in the projects in Bolton and Bury,

“Harmony Youth started off as a music-based therapy, but it has now developed into film, drama, dance, multi-media and occupational.

“We are also introducing programmes looking at careers, delivering those skills and we act as a port of call and direct youths to other services to further themselves in education.

“We are trying to break the stigma of school and develop networks with colleges and further education.

“Some youngsters are turned off the national curriculum and don’t enjoy school, but excel at hands-on and creative activities,”

At the moment, Harmony Youth is open five days a week, 9am until 5pm, but once the scheme gathers momentum, bosses hope it will be open evenings and weekends too.

There are currently between 20 and 25 youngsters working with Harmony Youth, split into relevant age groups,

Members are accepted mainly through referrals, but there is some flexibility,

Centre manager Mark Birchall added: “Harmony is also looking at sharing venues with other organisations, as some of our students have issues with travel.

“There is a proper community aspect to what we are doing.

“It is not just for people who are classed as NEET. Last week pupils from St John Fisher have been doing a project during half term. We work with different ethnicities, and it is not just child-based. We also aim to work with Age Concern, supporting people with dementia.”

An open day will be held at the centre, in Canal Street, off Woodhouse Lane, Beech Hill, on March 5. from noon until 2pm.

The time is flexible if people wish to come for a private appointment.

For more information call 01942 825283 or e-mail admin_harmony@hotmail.com.