Cafe launches teenage sessions to get young people off the streets

A community café in Heckmondwike town centre has launched a teenage session aimed at getting young people off the streets.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 12:00 pm
Owner Tracey King, left, and Lily Cheney, who has organised teenager meet-up groups at the Chill & Chat Cafe, Heckmondwike

Chill & Chat Café on Westgate is hosting the teenage meet-ups – called In & Out - every Saturday afternoon.

It is being promoted as a safe space for teenagers and it was the brainchild of 13-year-old Lily Cheney, who said young people needed a place to meet up.

Lily said: “I felt that the town needed a local cafe for teenagers to just be themselves, to not be hanging around on the streets and to be in a safe place where they can just chill and chat. It’s taken off really well.”

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The teenage sessions, which started two weeks ago, run from 2pm-4pm every Saturday and a free sandwich and a drink is provided.

Tracey King, who set up Chill & Chat with her son Liam and his partner Lucy, said: “Lily was looking for some volunteer experience and we were happy to help out. It’s a teen café run by teens for teens and it’s somewhere they can bob in and out of.

“It’s somewhere away from adults where they can relax, chat and play games.”

Chill & Chat is run as a not-for-profit community interest company (CIC). It started out in Dewsbury Moor before moving to the former Blue Moon Café premises on Westgate, opening for takeaways during lockdown in January this year.

Voluntary worker Tracey aims to provide employment and training opportunities for people with additional needs.

She runs a social cooking session for people with additional needs and also a chill and chat café open to anyone.

The main café, which will be open to the public, will be relaunched on October 4. It will be open on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings.

Tracey has recruited a café manager and a new menu is being drawn up. Tracey hopes to link up with local colleges and offer work experience and placements to students.

“We want to invite more local groups in and hold different sessions but we are also seeking out new sources of funding so that we can pay the bills and provide a venue,” said Tracey.