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Horizon Youth Zone trip to the USA highlights community network in North East Lincolnshire

12:45 pm, Wednesday, 11th October 2023 - 9 months ago


Builders are now on site in central Grimsby as work starts on the new OnSide Horizon Youth Zone. Set to open in 2025 in the transformed West Maltings and the Migar House building (formerly Mitchell’s Building Merchants), it will provide fantastic opportunities for thousands of local young people. Even before its opening, those opportunities are already being offered…

Horizon Youth Zone’s young people were treated to an exciting trip to the United States, sponsored by Vineyard Wind, before an exchange visit to Grimsby by their American counterparts.

Meeting weekly at the town’s University Centre, the group, aged 13 to 19, have been at the core of plans for the Youth Zone, sharing ideas of what they want from the facility.  The meetings also offer the chance for the young people to catch up with friends and share news of their lives, as they will when Horizon opens in 2025.

Handpicked by staff and volunteers working with the group, 10 young people (pictured with their hosts) were chosen to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New Bedford, Massachusetts.  The trip included a week-long stay at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth campus, a visit to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and a visit to the popular Providence WaterFire art installation.

Thirteen-year-old Toll Bar student Jacob was looking forward to visiting the university.  He said: “It was great to stay on the campus and learn about their education, scholarships, and what opportunities I could have in the future.

“Visiting the whaling museum, it was like the Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby, and I could see the parallels between the two towns.  It was a really informative trip!”

Ibo, who will be leaving Horizon soon as he reaches the upper age limit of the group, said: “I enjoyed learning about American culture, and about the connections between the two towns.”

Xander, who is 13, said: “Since the trip, I have been a lot more confident in meeting new people and speaking about things.  I am more settled with myself, and I don’t have as much social anxiety.  It has helped me to interact more with other members of the group.

“I have never been that far and never travelled without parents, so this was a first for me.  New Bedford is very similar to Grimsby, with the fishing industry.  It was very different from what I expected but it was awesome, and I am proud of myself for going.”

The journey was sponsored by Vineyard Wind, a joint venture between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) and Avangrid Inc, which is currently assembling turbine parts in the town of New Bedford before shipping them out to Vineyard Wind 1, the first commercial offshore windfarm in the United States.  The first completed turbine was shipped from New Bedford earlier in September, before winding its way to its new home in the Atlantic Ocean.

In 2017, private and public sector delegates from the New Bedford area visited Grimsby, who were keen to make connections and swap notes on the developing offshore wind industry through Ørsted (then Dong), and to find out more about North Sea windfarm Hornsea One.  Being constructed at that time, Hornsea One was commercially operational by 2020 and is now the largest offshore wind farm in the world.  Ørsted now plays a big part in Grimsby life, through sponsorships and events, and is a partner of the town’s new Horizon Youth Zone.

Like Grimsby, New Bedford was once a major fishing port, specialising in a whaling industry that supplied a large proportion of the USA with whale oil for lamps during the 1800s.  At the same time, Grimsby’s fishing industry was in full flow until the Cod Wars of the Sixties and Seventies, when it went into decline.  New Bedford suffered a similar fate as electricity replaced the oil lamp.  Both towns are now looking to the commercial wind farm sector for employment and a much-needed boost to their economies.

North East Lincolnshire Council Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economy, Net Zero, Skills and Housing, Philip Jackson, finished: “The trip to New Bedford by the young people of Horizon Youth Zone highlights how Ørsted and the wider community are working together to create better futures for all, and continues to showcase Grimsby as an example for the global commercial wind farm industry.

“It is fantastic that these young people learnt about possibilities for their own futures, made the most of such an opportunity, and made personal strides on the journey.”

Horizon Youth Zone is being delivered by national charity OnSide, in partnership with North East Lincolnshire Council which is contributing towards the Youth Zone as part of the Greater Grimsby Town Deal. Other key supporters include Historic England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Ørsted, St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation, The Youth Investment Fund and private donors.

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