Youth Group’s Tiber Square Opens In Toxteth

Photo caption: l to r: Debbie Wright, CEO Greenhouse and Tiber project; Daniel Robinson; Cherise Smith; Joe Ramsden; Stephen Nze, Facilitator of TYPSG; Marnie Simon; Ryan Vassal; Chloe Sargent, seated; Shannon Simon; Councillor Tim Moore, Princes Park ward.
TIBER Square on Lodge Lane in Toxteth – a project conceived by the 14-18 year old members of the Tiber Young People’s Steering Group (TYPSG) and funded by a £100,000 grant from a national scheme backed by Queen of Shops, Mary Portas – is officially open to the public. One of the original members of the TYPSG, Cherise Smith, said: “This is a really special time for us after three years of hard work and we can now invite everyone to come along and start using our public square in the heart of Toxteth.” Mary Portas was commissioned in 2011 by the government to conduct an independent review of the future of British high streets. In her ‘Portas Review’, she found town centres and high streets around the country were losing their appeal and identified the need to ‘put the heart back into the centre of our high streets’. She suggested this could be done by making the destinations more than just a place to shop. Following the review over 400 high street ‘town teams’ applied for a ‘Portas’ grant and the TYPSG’s idea to build a public square on Lodge Lane was chosen as one of only 24 winners across the UK. Daniel Robinson, who has also been a member of the TYPSG for many years and took part in the original bid for the ‘Portas’ money, added: “The knock-on effect of winning the money to build the square was that many other organisations stepped forward to offer us additional support. So, for example, we’ve received great backing from Liverpool City Council, the Arts Council and the Everyman and Playhouse Theatre, with funding for the street furniture and plants from Viridor Credits. “The in-kind and monetary value of the support given us by these organisations reaches many tens of thousands of pounds and we are very grateful to them. “We’ve all learned so much during this process. From the initial research we carried out asking what young people wanted to see in their neighbourhood right through to being trained in business management by Harrogate Business School, a part of Durham University. The Everyman and Playhouse has trained us about how to organise events on the square, once it’s up and running, and we’ve already secured the launch of the Arabic Arts Festival on 9th July. “Using the training and guidance provided by the Everyman we will be working hard to attract other festivals and events to come to Tiber Square and our plan is that the businesses along the high street will benefit from the increased footfall these events will attract.” Facilitator of the TYPSG, Stephen Nze, said: “All the young people should feel really proud about the way their hard work is paying off and how they have influenced the look and feel of their own area. “What is special about the way Tiber operates is that it’s the young people who come up with the ideas and who, ultimately, learn how they can be part of influencing the development of their own community.” Laura Hall, Community Outreach Manager, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatres said: “We are honoured to be working with the Tiber young people; they are enthusiastic, empowered and creative in their ideas towards making their community a better place.  “The Young Events Producers recently worked with us to produce an L8 ‘Scene Change’ in the Playhouse Studio which showcased local and emerging talent to a sold out audience and we are now meeting weekly to fundraise for and create a community opening of the square in late July.  “The square will be an asset to the local community, cultural, sports and arts organisations like ours and the city of Liverpool.” Councillor Tim Moore, Princes Park ward, said: “It’s been a pleasure helping the young people of Tiber realise their vision to build a public square and I’m looking forward to working with them on the next phase of their ongoing development of the Tiber site.”