McDonald's Grimsby leading the way in youth pilot project

McDonald's is to roll out a youth-centred scheme nationally after a Grimsby pilot with North East Lincolnshire Council has led the way.

The fast food chain is to roll out nationally its 'Makin' it' initiative, funding 500 new youth work qualifications and the creation of safe spaces for young people in all of its 1,450 restaurants. Grimsby has been part of a pilot over the last 18 months, with McDonald's partnering with the council and Grimsby Retailers in Partnership (GRIP). "Gangs of kids" have previously caused anti-social behaviour issues in the town centre.

The Grimsby pilot resulted in the December opening of the Haven Centre youth zone. It provides a space for youth workers, classes for young people and support services for people facing challenging situations in their home lives.

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"They migrated to here about 18 months ago where there were massive issues with gangs of kids outside," says Paul Casswell, head of young and safe, at North East Lincolnshire Council, in a video highlighting the project and its origins. He states the council's anti-social behaviour summit brought partners together. The result of the collaboration with McDonald's is Haven Centre, in Osborne Street.

The video also contains testimony from McDonald's Grimsby shift workers about the previous youth issues faced by the Victoria Street West branch. One comments it was "mentally draining" trying to keep groups of 50 kids under control. Running three days a week, the Haven Centre's support and activities include a sexual health drop-in and drug and alcohol support at times on Tuesdays, youth club nights, and exam revision on Wednesday afternoons.

A stock image of McDonald's in Victoria Street West, Grimsby
A stock image of McDonald's in Victoria Street West, Grimsby -Credit:GrimsbyLive/Donna Clifford

Ayolt Kloosterboer, franchisee of three restaurants across Grimsby, said: "Since taking over the town centre restaurant in 2018, I started chairing GRIP in 2019, consisting of a collection of business leaders in the area looking to reduce anti-social behaviour and theft within Grimsby. This led us into working with local youth workers as we identified that the lack of opportunities for young people was the ultimate issue at hand."

Working alongside these youth workers, council and police had resulted in Haven Centre's creation, Mr Kloosterboer said. "This facility has made such a difference already, with many of my McDonald’s crew also lending their time to volunteer at the zone," he added.

"Most significantly, we have already seen a visible shift in crew happiness and engagement with young people in the restaurants which has been fantastic. The zone has only just opened, but we look forward to seeing how it can continue to help young people across Grimsby.”

McDonald's national rollout of Makin' it follows polling commissioned by it highlighting young people's concerns about opportunities and activities for them. A OnePoll survey of more than 2,000 young people aged 16-24 found almost one in two (44 per cent) nationally don’t feel there are enough projects in their area aimed at providing support and opportunities for them.

The Haven Centre in Grimsby, pictured, opened in December.
The Haven Centre in Grimsby, pictured, opened in December. -Credit:McDonald's

In the Northeast region that Grimsby has been placed in for the polling, 71 per cent say they worry often about the future. But only 11 per cent of young people nationwide have a youth worker or counsellor to turn to for support.

As well as the youth work qualifications and safe spaces, McDonald's will divert part of its Apprenticeship Levy to support more youth workers taking youth work apprenticeships in England. The fast food giant is committing through Makin' it to resource and funding to give young people, aged 13 and above, access to opportunities where they live. This includes music partnerships and sports programmes to be launched this summer with Youth Music and Kick it Out.