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It was exciting for the VVU to be back to The Base in Chelmsford to see all the developments that have taken place over the last year.

Running out of The Base is the Building Lives project which supports young people at risk of crime, violence and criminal exploitation. The project supports 30 young people – boys and girls – and takes referrals from across the county.

The project was awarded £20,000 in the VVU 2022/23 community grant fund programme to fund an onsite mentor and centre co-ordinator. This allows young people affected by, and involved in, serious violence, knife crime and county lines, to access The Base and receive mentoring, coaching, life skills, workshops and positive activities.

The Base has been transformed in the last year. From being just a couple of rooms in a building in a yard in Chelmsford, it now comprises of a state of the art gym, music studio, classroom and a break out room with pool table and table football.

The project is helping young people work towards qualifications in gym instructing and music production. In the relaxed, open atmosphere the young people have a safe space they attend on a regular basis, chat through issues with their mentor and build positive relationships.

On our visit we met lots of young people who spoke passionately about how The Base gives them hope, ambition for the future, life goals and the opportunity to address things that have gone wrong in their life.

As we chatted to Gavin McKenna, the brainchild behind Building Lives, we were really struck by the determination to grow the project, expand the offer and support even more young people. In Gavin’s own words “we just want to produce successful young people that can go on and live a brighter future.”

We are sure the young people we met today are destined for great things, thanks to a project that has given them the ability to believe in themselves.