Young people in Parramatta will have a space to call their own thanks to an innovative new partnership between the YMCA NSW (Y NSW) and Westfield.
The organisations today opened a pop-up youth space in the Parramatta mall where Gen Z can hang out, recharge, meet new people or seek support from a youth worker.
Y NSW Youth Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator Elise Kellett said the space is a game changer for young people from Western Sydney.
“Young people from Parramatta and surrounds have been crying out for a space where they can be themselves; a safe inclusive space that is free of judgement that provides opportunities and support,” Ms Kellett said.
“The idea behind the Westfield Y Space Pop Up is that Gen Z shape the space. Our programming and workshops will be driven by what young people want and need, smack bang in the middle of the shopping centre where they naturally already flock.”
A survey of 14-25 year olds conducted by the Y NSW in August/September this year identified employment support, social opportunities and mental health support as top priorities for young people in the Parramatta CBD.
Workshops and skills sessions will be run out of the Westfield pop-up to respond to these needs including a Youth Collective series on Saturdays where young people will take the reins, coordinating and leading their own workshops to share their unique skills and perspectives.
Y NSW Executive Leader Youth and Community Services Louisa McKay thanked Westfield for the opportunity to join forces for positive social impact.
“The Y NSW has a long working relationship with Westfield in Parramatta and we applaud them for pivoting during COVID-19 and utilising an empty shopfront to engage a key demographic within their community,” she said.
“This exciting initiative has the potential to prevent youth crime, disengagement and poor outcomes down the track by engaging young people proactively. Our qualified staff will work with young people to develop life and employment skills and give them strategies to proactively manage their mental, physical and social wellbeing.
“We congratulate Westfield for seeking to rewrite the narrative on the youth occupation of their shopping centres through the expertise of the Y NSW and the powerful positive force of community connection.”
Parramatta Y NSW Young Leader Maveryn, 19, said young people need opportunities to connect face-to-face.
“I think it’s really exciting how accessible the space will be within Westfield, it’s right next to the station, all the buses go there and it’s a central meeting point for young people in Parramatta,” Mav said.
“Programs that enhance or provide new skill sets are always great and employment support is really important right now, helping write resume-writing, practicing interviews, things like that are especially helpful now given how difficult all of us are finding job hunting right now.
“Being online so much during COVID has been tough, I don’t have the best internet so sometimes it’s not the best for me. Face-to-face is definitely different, you feel the connectedness being around people.”
The Y Space Pop Up Parramatta is located on Level 2, and open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Fridays between 10-6pm, Thursdays from 10-8pm and Saturdays from 10-5pm.
View the workshops, events and drop-in schedules at: https://www.ymcansw.org.au/community-services/youth/yspace/parramatta/
The Y NSW’s work in Parramatta is made possible with the support of City of Parramatta Council and funding from the Department of Communities and Justice.