Sutton school pupils have given their seal of approval to a new youth cafe set to open in the town - and it will be up to them to make it a success.
The Forge will give young people aged 13-16 in the town their own space to chill out, when it opens in November.
The idea is the brainchild of Leut Matthew Brown of Sutton in Ashfield Salvation Army Corps to give teenagers somewhere to go that isn’t a park, outside a fast food outlet or involving alcohol.
It is not just about nipping anti-social behaviour in the bud - he says he is open to suggestions on how the cafe can become a central part of youngster’s lives and help them fulfil their potential in lots of ways.
Matthew said: “We’ll expand it in future if that is what they want.
“We have gone for pretty much a blank canvas - we have cafe facilities, hot and cold drinks and game consoles.
“There is a large screen TV and a projection screen so we could have a youth film cafe night.”
“We believe there is a lot of potential in the younger generation and instead of labelling them we want to be advocates.
“The Forge name suggests getting hold of that potential, empowering them in what they need to succeed.
“Obviously the reason we are here is because we are Christians but this is not an evangelistic mission.
“We are here to inspire them and give them their freedom to reach their potential, Whatever faith they may have.”
Pupils from Quarrydale Academy and Sutton Academy were invited along to road test the Forge this week. They were typically keeping their own counsel, but very positive about their new territory.
Joe Carter, 13, was playing Minecraft on the PS3, when the Chad interrupted his concentration.
He said: “I think this is a good idea - it will help to keep kids off the streets and hanging around MacDonalds.” He said he was trying to finish the game.
A group of lads were perched around a table chatting and drinking cans of Coke. Zac Colclough, 13 said he would come and meet his mates at the centre when it opens.
Kirsty Hannan, 15 a pupil of Sutton Community Academy was in he TV lounge with her friends Nadine Grainger 14 and 14-year-old Liz Johnson.
Kirsty said: “It is very spacious for teenagers and there is a lot of variety of things to do
“I think it would appeal to people our age.
Nadine said: “It is somewhere for people to go - young people tend to go on The Sutton Lawn or watch TV.”
Liz Johnson added: “I think it’s a good place for young people to come and meet their friends. There aren’t any places like this in the local area apart from academic things at the academy - sometimes you feel you could do with a change.”
Communty protection officers Alan Cordin and Faye Baldwin were at the opening but stressed they would not be fixtures at the Forge.
Alan said: “I think it is a great thing and is what Sutton needs. Sutton is lacking places where kids can come and chill out with nobody official there.
“On Friday there is a lot of underage drinking on the parks.
“When we speak to them on Friday nights they say they are going out drinking because there is nothing else to do.
“They meet with others who do drink and do the same because of peer pressure.
“I think this is a great opportunity for them to talk to each other, keep warm in winter and have a coffee. If they have got problems they will talk to someone up here more than they will to us.
“When you speak to the majority of kids they are fine - 98 per cent of kids in Sutton are sound.”
The Forge will open on Fridays from 14th November from 6-9pm. There public is invited to visit on an open evening on Saturday 25th October at 5pm.