A new hub for youngsters is needed in Reading as children, teens and young adults face a number of 'crises' in their lives. 

That’s the message from the parents of Olly Stephens, who have joined forces with children’s charity No5 Young People to get behind plans for the new youth centre. 

Olly, 13, was murdered by two teenage boys at Bugs Bottom park in January 2021 following an online spat between them. 

He was set up by a teenage girl who arranged the plans to lure Olly to the park on social media. 

Stuart and Amanda Stephens said: “Following the loss of our beautiful boy, Oliver Lucas Stephens, ‘Olly’, it has become clear that by working together, we can help our children with safe spaces, mentoring, signposting, and accessible mental health provision. 

“The idea of a Reading-based, centrally located, drop-in hub which will incorporate all these needs of our young people and can involve local partners to help them is fantastic. 

“Our children’s lives are in crisis, with the perfect storm of the non-regulation of their social media platforms, smartphone addiction, COVID and lockdown periods away from their schools and being with their friends. 

“The idea of a drop-in centre, where they can relax, meet others, ask for help and advice, join in activities, listen to talks and presentations by trained professionals, will make them feel less alone, less worried and more socially connected.”

A fundraising gala has been organised for Saturday, November 12, to help No5 and its scoping and delivery partners - Starting Point and Reading FC Community Trust - progress with the plans. 

The charity is on the hunt for three firms to sponsor the event, which for £5,000 will entitle companies to: 

  • Their brand taking ‘centre stage’ in all the charity’s promotional material
  • Featuring regularly on social media before and after the event
  • A table, three-course meal and a speech opportunity at the gala
  • A brick in the wall of the new hub and on a mural of names in the hub

As well as this, No 5 says sponsorship will give companies ‘the opportunity for your business to have a lasting legacy in our local community and a positive impact on young people.’

According to UK Property Forums, No 5 is on the lookout for a suitable location for the new hub, which would support young people aged 11-25. 

The charity currently leases an old, Grade II listed building on Oxford Road, Reading, which has been sold to a developer. 

This means the organisation has until October 2023 to pack up and leave the premises. 

No5 Young People has been providing free, confidential and professional mental health support, counselling and outreach for young people aged 11-25 who live, work or study in or near Reading for 50 years. 

In 2021/22, the charity supported 688 young people through counselling and offered more than 6,000 counselling sessions.

They deliver a programme of mental health workshops in schools, and have a host of online support and resources including activities, blogs and videos.  

To find out more about the sponsorship, contact carly.newman@no5.org.uk