On 29th November, 150 guests came down to The Factory Youth Zone in Harpurhey, North Manchester, to mark the official opening of the state-of-the-art building by Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council.
The charity’s founder patrons, supporters and champions were joined by key members of Manchester’s business, public and third sector community including Tony Lloyd, Manchester’s new Police Commissioner.
Guests were given tours of the building by young members so they could see some of the 20 activities on offer every night in the Youth Zone to its 2,500 members – including trampolining, DJing, skateboarding, climbing and recycled fashion art.
They were treated to the ‘best of Manchester’ as they tucked into a Mancunian supper of hot-pot and Manchester tart, created by The Factory’s chef and served by a team of volunteers and young people.
Later, they enjoyed a surprise performance from The Factory’s resident dance group, FAC-9. Made up of 16 of The Factory’s members, FAC-9 performed a dance sequence whose narrative reflected how The Factory aims to change the lives of children from across Manchester, improving their futures. It segued from the traditional image of Mancunian Factory workers, as portrayed by Lowry, to a more modern image of Manchester featuring vibrant street dance and hip-hop.
There was also a bewitching performance from nine year old Temiah Deans-Welch, a member from Blackley who sang ‘Listen’, a hit for Beyonce and more recently for Jahmene Douglas from the X-Factor.
The performances elicited a standing ovation from the crowd, who were visibly moved by the talent and effort on show.
Speaking about performing in front of an audience of over 150, Temiah, said: ‘I enjoyed performing on stage tonight – it was excellent, good fun. I feel very happy and proud to have performed tonight.’
Kate Vokes, Chair of The Factory Youth Zone, said: “The evening has been a wonderful celebration of the achievements and hard work of everyone who supports The Factory, and has shown what the best of Manchester has to offer.
“The Factory is a place where young people aged eight to 21 are supported to fulfil their potential and make positive choices so they can lead happy, healthy lives – and this event shows that The Factory is achieving what it set out to do, and more.’
Bill Holroyd, Founder and Chair of OnSide, spoke of his excitement. “The opening at FYZ was the first time in five years that I’ve really sat back and taken it all in. I was staggered by the amount of work that the whole team has devoted to the project, and it made me realise what a wonderful facility we’ve created, and appreciate the way it’s making a difference to so many young people after just twelve months. I’ll never forget the evening, as long as I live.”