A BRAND new Family Centre, set to open in November, has had an amazing make-over, thanks to a youth team from the National Citizen Service.
4 Cheeky Monkeys, located at The Old Scout Hut, Dawlish Road in Sale West, is the brainchild of Jeneane Warhurst, 31 who lives nearby. It will offer a toddler group / play n’ stay as well as music sessions, messy sessions, story time and much more.
Disappointed at the lack of supportive, accessible amenities for families needing extra support within Sale West, Jeneane and her Mum, Lesley began the project to renovate, decorate and reopen the dilapidated building in 2012. Initially using all of their own combined savings, building work began in June of the same year and they made good progress.
Jeneane said: “I was already childminding and knew that there were local people who wanted these sessions available daily.”
“I also had a single dad approach me for advice on potty training and, after speaking to him, we plan to offer a session for dads to come along for support, advice and socialising – a place they can discuss the difficulties they face as single parents.”
It was a massive task, with rubbish piled high outside, windows boarded over and plumbing work needed as well as costly matters like architects and planning fees.
By September their savings had run out and the team had to down tools in order to save and apply for some much needed funding. They set about filling in forms and getting advice on who to approach for support.
Early in 2013 Dan Shelston, Development Lead for Sale West at Trafford Housing Trust, nominated the project for Trafford Housing Trusts Give and Gain scheme. The team went down to the site to make preparations, with the work beginning again in May.
They plumbed the toilets in and began the electrical work, the centre really began to take shape. Trafford Housing Trust, along with local companies ensured that fences were painted and flowers were planted, the access toilet was fitted and a new kitchen installed.
With the building work almost complete thoughts turned to how the centre would be decorated and, with a name like 4 Cheeky Monkeys, it was easy to decide on a theme. The question was how….
Dan Shelston discussed 4 Cheeky Monkeys with his work colleague, Aine Graven who suggested that he introduce Jeanne to The National Citizen Service, a new government scheme encouraging young people to volunteer their time to help communities and their projects.
Running in the spring, summer and autumn, NCS is open to all 16 and 17 year-olds in England and Ireland. The scheme involves a short stay away from home and then taking part in a project to help their community.
The team sent to help at 4 Cheeky Monkeys was made up of teenagers from across Trafford and they did a fantastic job.
Their first week was spent in Anglesey where the team took part in lots of activities such as raft building, canoeing and sea level traversing.
Week two saw the team stay in the halls of residence at Manchester Metropolitan University where they had to live independently, cooking and cleaning for themselves. They also spent time doing team activities and working together on projects like talent shows.
The third week was dedicated to painting a mural on the walls of 4 Cheeky Monkeys – the team first had to bid for funding in a Dragon’s Den style production and then, once successful, they set to work planning and painting the designs.
Mary Timms, 16, attends Loreto Grammar School in Altrincham and was one of the volunteers that took part.
Mary said: “I decided to get involved because it seemed like a great, worthwhile way to spend my summer, as well as an opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills.”
“My favourite part of the week was towards the end when we could see the walls almost finished and how well it had turned out. It was great to see everyone’s designs come together.”
The team were rewarded with a graduation ceremony at the end of the project as well as a certificate signed by the Prime Minister.
Mary said: “I feel I’ve gained a lot of confidence from the whole experience as I am usually quite shy around new people. During this project I have met so many amazing people and I feel that we have managed to make a difference.”
There are still busy times ahead for the 4 Cheeky Monkeys team as they prepare to open later in the year.
Wates Builders have nominated the project as their next ‘give and gain’ day and will be spending a day at the centre next month – possibly flagging or installing a ramp….
It will be great to see this labour of love come together and open its doors to the community. Look out for updates as the date draws closer:)