Rishi Sunak has praised the work of a group of unemployed young people have been rolling up their sleeves to help revamp an unused school building in Catterick Garrison.
Mr Sunak said: “These young people have put a lot of effort into something that is going to benefit a lot of children.
“They should be commended for that and I am grateful to them. In the process they will have learnt a lot about teamwork and leadership, which will service them well when they go on to do what they want to do with their lives.”
The Richmond MP had called in to meet the volunteers taking part in The Prince’s Trust Team programme and could now see their efforts help bring alternate opportunities to youngsters in the region who may have fallen out of mainstream education.
Transforming the former caretaker’s house at Risedale Sports and Community College, Prince’s Trust Team leader Chris Barnes said: “This was a massive challenge for our team of young people but one that they have really risen to.”
Repainting the interior of the house from top to bottom, he said: “The group has basically been painting for two weeks solid but they have done it all with a smile on their face and lots of pride.”
The Prince’s Trust Catterick Team programme is a 12-week personal development course delivered by Stockton Riverside College. It offers young people aged 16 to 25 the chance to develop new skills by taking part in a series of tasks and challenges.
The young people volunteered to refresh Risedale’s old caretaker’s cottage as part of their two-week community challenge. The team also redecorated the school’s drama room.
School principal Colin Scott said: “To have these young volunteers come and lend a hand is fantastic.
“The house has not been used for a long time.
“While we have this facility and some great ideas for what we can use it for, as everyone knows school budgets are tight and that has affected our ability to adapt it and bring it into full use.”
Hoping to transform the building into a short-term facility for those who risk falling out of mainstream education, Mr Scott said: “The idea would be to put an extra layer in place for schools across the region to try and prevent permanent exclusion.”
Still in its very early stages of discussion and development, the principal said: “Without the efforts of these young people we wouldn’t be at the stage that we are at.”
Renaming the facility Lawrence House, after the school’s former caretaker and his son, the young people were joined by MP for Richmond (Yorks) Rishi Sunak, who spoke to them about the work and their fuure
Prince’s Trust student Jamie Horrocks, 19, of Catterick, said: “We came to the project with a positive attitude. I like painting but as we went through it I was painting in my sleep. It is overwhelming to see how much progress we have all made. It has been a really big achievement.”
The team funded the community challenge with £250 from the Key Fund and £233 raised during a supermarket bag pack. Carpets were provided by Calvert Carpets and Paragon Carpets, and a new sign was produced and donated by Eyecatching Signs.