A NEW store in Birkenhead is giving youngsters across Wirral the chance to shop – for a future.
At HYPE, Helping Young People Everywhere, they can shop for sports, arts, music, drama, job training and even get help to stop smoking.
Founded in 2007 and situated in The Grange and Pyramid Shopping Centre, Birkenhead, the not-for-profit organisation is the brainchild of Matthew Houghton.
The 31-year-old from Upton said: "I've never been to university. I left school and went to work in a biscuit factory.
"That gave me a view of the kind of a steady job which was not going anywhere and was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life so while I was there I decided to get qualified as a sports coach and then got a job with Adidas.
"When I thought of launching the HYPE initiative I got a teacher and a DJ involved.
"I looked at working with youngsters in deprived areas and from that it developed into evening courses and weekend courses, doing everything that young people wanted, sport, music, art and drama and all kinds of different workshops."
With funding from local authority, lottery sources and its own fund-raising activities, and lots of volunteer help, Hype developed into much more, even running quit smoking courses, with backing from the NHS, and has spread its wings to Hoylake, Seacombe and Woodchurch.
The shop unit runs weekly youth clubs; four employment programmes each week for 18-24 year olds which can accommodate up to 16 people; Saturday morning provision for primary school children which about 50 attend, so quite a few hundred youngsters are helped by it each week.
Matthew Boyd, 20, from New Brighton, left school with GCSEs, gained sports qualifications at sixth form, did plumbing training at college but still found himself out of work.
He said: "I saw an advert for HYPE so attended HYPE Right Track on a Friday in Birkenhead and got some voluntary work and I’m now being paid to do a job I love."
Matthew had been experimenting with DJing since he was 14 and even did a short spell in Ibiza which he says was a 'phenomenal experience'.
Now his courses at the Grange and Pyramids are much sought after.