Whitehaven Harbour Youth Project – Personal Development of Young People

Whitehaven Harbour Youth Project is based in the centre of Whitehaven and has been running for nearly 20 years. Their mission is to give young people an opportunity to develop their potential, to understand themselves and others, to enjoy life and to contribute positively to the world.

The project has just completed one grant from the Fund to support it’s work with young people over a three year period and the fund has just awarded a grant to cover a further five years.

We operate a full program of drop-in youth group activities catering for ages 7 to 18. In the last three years we have increased our opening hours from 4 to 6 days a week to include:-

Youth Club, 5-8pm, age 11+

Doorstep Sports, 4-6pm, age 13+
Duke of Edinburgh Award Planning Meetings, 6-7.30pm, age 13+

Art Club, 4.30-6pm, age 10+
Girls Group, 6.30-8.30pm, age 10+
Get Running Club, 5-6pm, age 10+
Table Tennis, 5-8pm, age 8+

Junior Climbing and Multi Sports, 4-5pm, age 7+
Junior Climbing, 5-6pm, age 8+
Hobbies Club, 5-9pm, age 14+
Adult Table Tennis, 6.40-9pm

Friday Night Climbers, 4.30-6pm, age 11+
Friday Night Project, 6.30-9pm age 11+

Youth Café 12-3pm, age 10+

We run from an extremely well equipped premises with sports hall and climbing wall and we strive to offer as much variety and opportunity as we can to local young people. There are currently 8 opportunities for achieving accreditations including the Duke of Edinburgh Award, the National Indoor Climbing Scheme Award, the Youth Achievement Award, and Canoe England Paddle Power to name but a few – all introduced with a view to the project having a positive and long lasting impact on the futures of young people. We constantly work with young people to understand the impact of the work that we do and to ensure that the program we offer is addressing locally identified need. Our current focus is on increasing participation in sporting and physical activity and we are using our facilities, local partners, and our qualified staff to make this happen. Wherever possible we offer extra activities during the holidays and at weekends including outdoor adventure days and excursions out of county. Recent examples of this include a trip to the National Indoor Cycling Centre in Manchester to experience the thrill of the Olympic velodrome, numerous inter-county and out of county table tennis tournaments, outdoor climbing trips and visits to other indoor climbing venues, beach adventure days, and a trip to Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Long Term Impact
During the course of our funding from Copeland Community Fund we took the opportunity to interview some of our young people about the impact that WHYP has had on their live. The interview below encapsulates perfectly the ethos of the work that we do:-

Simon Lilly first came to WHYP when he was 12 years old. He is now 22 and about to embark on a new adventure in the Navy. Simon has been a huge contributor to WHYP over the years, both as an enthusiastic participant in pretty much every activity on offer, and more recently as an invaluable volunteer. WHYP staff and young people will miss his laid back and friendly presence and wish him all the success in the world as he moves on to a new chapter in his life. Congratulations Simon and Thank You!

We took the opportunity to ask Simon a few questions about his time at WHYP before he headed off to pastures new. Read on to find out more about what WHYP has meant to Simon and what his lasting memories are.

What impact did WHYP have on the things that you did in your free time?
Nothing to do other than swimming, and not much opportunity to socialise outside of school time. Through WHYP I got involved with many opportunities to do climbing, kayaking, football, sailing, video games, topic/debate sessions. It gave me a “safe space”.

What did you achieve during your time at WHYP as a young person and as an adult volunteer?
Kayaking level 1 award, Bronze/Silver Duke of Edinburgh, Royal Yachting Association Competent Crew Award, Runner up in Young Cumbria’s Volunteer of the Year, Food Hygiene Level 1.

How did WHYP help you and why?
Helped me grow in confidence because doing things I don’t normally get to do. My parents noticed how much I had grown up and came out of my shell more. It took me out of my comfort zone and I had to adapt. I also gained life skills like cooking, survival in the outdoors and some of the best night’s sleep have been in a sleeping bag on the tent floor.

What kept you coming back for over 11 years?
Because of the different opportunities I was offered and had friends here. I count myself lucky to have had all the opportunities I have had, some of them were once in a life time.

Has WHYP changed you in any way?
My interests have changed over the years due to the opportunities WHYP has given me. I got hooked on sailing and due to this, developed an interest in joining the Navy. I recently passed all my entry exams and interviews and start this November 2013 for a career in theNavy.

What are your best memories?
Sweden… who gets a chance at aged 13 to kayak in the Baltic sea. Went with good people and the whole experience was positive. Wont forget some of the views and scenery. Also taught me never to each sandwiches when people were taking photos Tyne Tour… didn’t have much experience in kayaks, learnt fast new skills and experiences. Sailing Ocean Youth Trust… gave me new skills that I can transfer in my career like navigation, boat skills, gained my RYA Competent Crew award. Was an inspirational trip because when I came off the boat, I had to do it again and knew I wanted that as a job.

How would you describe your time here:
Inspiring, Learnt so much, Enjoyable. I met new fiends, which I keep in contact with even now. Staff and volunteers were positive role models as they took me out of my comfort zone and gave me the opportunities, they always seem to know how far to push me.

What have you got out of volunteering for WHYP?
I Always come away from a session feeling good and it’s a rewarding experience helping others like I was helped as a young person. I learnt people skills mainly through WHYP but also my other Job as Barman… both contributed massively, just because had to adapt and deal with different people and personalities.

Other funding was secured from: Big Lottery, Earned Income, Francis C. Scott, Fundraising, Garfield Weston, Inspira, NMP and Tudor Trust


  • 5.3 full time equivalent posts safeguarded
  • 618 young people show clear progress in personal development
  • 105 young people gain an accredited outcome or award
  • 27 organisations use the centre as a delivery point
  • 39 community volunteers and young people acting as volunteers
  • 13 gain experience that leads to employment, education or training
  • 45 young people at risk of offending are supported and mostly do not reoffend


  • The project ensures that the current level of support given by the WHYP to young people is continued for the next three years, benefitting at least 2050 young people overall, of whom 1100 will participate directly in Youth Centre activities. Through assessment, post involvement surveys and local crime and disorder information we will be able to show positive development in these young people and improved attitudes to anti-social behaviour and drug and alcohol abuse.