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Why we do it

Our Mission

Our Vision

Unlock Northwich is a youth initiative from The Stronghold Church with a vision to see youth empowering youth to conquer obstacles and unlock more to life. The initiative is underpinned by a Christian ethos, but we serve young people from all faiths/no faiths and backgrounds.


Through our current youth work and church work in and around Northwich, we have found that the main problems that young people are facing are academic pressures, deprivation and a lack of access to engaging and stimulating activities. The end result of this is often young people lacking the confidence required to excel in education, and therefore not realising their full potential. We believe that the young people of Northwich can, in the right environment and with positive support, unlock a fulfilling future. Unlock Northwich will work with young people aged between 13 to 18 to build confidence and life skills, through peer support, to help them overcome obstacles and make a fruitful transition to adulthood.

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The Need

There are a couple of issues that have drawn us to want to deliver Unlock Northwich in our town. These are:

● increasing academic pressure and stress for young people
● lack of engaging and beneficial activities for young people
● lack of access to educational support for the most deprived

We believe that we can contribute to solving this problem for youth in Northwich through a very simple solution: youth themselves! We will empower and coach young people to help each other overcome obstacles such as academic struggles, stress, and lack of confidence. Also, in the way they use the space; it is our youth that will help create the welcoming and safe youth community that is greatly needed.

See below for more details about these issues and how Unlock Northwich addresses them.

Academic Pressure

Young people are suffering from increasing academic stress and pressure, and most of all, a lack of confidence. 79% of secondary school leaders in the UK have noticed an increase in fear of academic failure in recent years and 59% noticed a fear of the future amongst their pupils*. In addition to this, more than a third of children and young people said that they were more worried or more stressed in general than they were before the lockdown of 2020*. Another YouGov survey found that 40% of 15-year-olds in Great Britain get worried that school work will be too hard and they won’t be able to do it*. 82% of teachers have also said that tests and exams have the biggest negative impact on pupil’s mental health*.

We believe that the strength of our tutoring initiative is in the peer element and the different environment of the café. Research highlights how peer connectedness has a strong impact on lowering stress and increasing resilience*. Tutors 1-3 years older than the GCSE students are that role model of what the students can achieve soon, in similar circumstances. We also believe the café environment will work to relieve pressure and stress as it is not a formal educational institution and away from any potential stress at home. As one high school pupil we spoke to put it “[there is] no stress about being there. In school you have quite a lot of pressure, but it seems like [in the cafe] there’s likely nothing to stress about. “

The YMCA youth charity found that local authority expenditure on youth services dropped from £1.4bn in 2010-11 to just under £429m in 2018-19, resulting in the loss of 750 youth centres*. Today in Northwich we have over 2700 teenagers, but there are an extremely limited number of free, accessible activities for them outside of school hours*. All of this can play a role in anti-social behaviour too. In 2021 there was a 48% increase in anti-social behaviour crime rate per 1,000 people in Northwich compared to the rest of Cheshire*. 

We want our café space to be a welcoming, free place where youth can come to with friends instead of hanging around the streets and a place they can come to when they feel stressed or bored.


Lack of Activities



Many parents are unable to afford the tutoring options available to pupils in Northwich. More than 27% of all households in West Cheshire were living in poverty in 2017/18, with some villages in Northwich being as high as 35%*. Additionally, in October 2020, the Cheshire West and Chester council declared a poverty emergency in the borough*. Not only do young people living in deprivation have a lack of access to engaging activities that finances could afford, but they also often lack the resources needed to excel in education. This can result in lack of confidence, which can increasingly cause them to disengage and not do well at school. It is this cycle that leads to anti-social behaviour, lack of confidence and lack of educational qualifications and skills.

Unlock Northwich provides an opportunity for academic support without needing to pay tutoring fees. The peer to peer aspect also helps to boost confidence and community, providing engaging activities for those otherwise disengaged.

The Outcomes

The outcomes we hope our work will achieve for young people in Northwich.

*YouGov survey 2021
Dojchinovska (2021)
Wuthricha et al., (2021) 

Weale (2020)
Zhuji (2022) (2022) (2019)

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