Making Space at Ancient House

Ipswich’s young people have their say on safe spaces in the town

45 guests, the majority of them young people, came together this week to celebrate youth-led projects and to share their inspiration for places where young people can spend time together in Ipswich. 

From a banana-shaped games room to free-to-use art studios, the ideas were flowing thick and fast at the event held in the Ancient House in Ipswich’s Buttermarket. 

Listening to their views was Labour and Co-operative Party Prospective Parliamentary candidate Jack Abbott. Jack also talked to the guests about how he came to be involved in politics at a young age.  

The event ‘Making Space – An Open Forum for Young Place-Changers’ was part of the Thomas Wolsey 550 project’s place-changers programme.  It was held in partnership with Community Hub Ipswich (CHIp). It was the third in a series of similar events CHIp has held recently for young people to discuss safe spaces and to ask questions of politicians from different political parties.  


The event in the Ancient House was timed to coincide with the tenth anniversary of #IWILL week) – a national celebration of the work of young people, their ambassadors, champions, and partners.  


The event had four main element:

  •  Representatives from children’s charity 4YP showcased their work from earlier in the year with MAKE architects, in which they designed their perfect youth hub using state of the art VR technology. MAKE is a highly sought after architect practice which has been responsible for designing some of the world’s most renowned buildings including the Gherkin Tower in the City of London. Guests heard first-hand what it was like to work alongside such an influential organisation. 


  • CHIp Youth Council representatives explained their ‘Map it Out’ project which enables young people to signpost their favourite safe spaces in Ipswich and make suggestions for how they could be improved. 
  • A design workshop led by Ellie DeGory and Richard MacRae from local architects EDRM which inspired young people to design their dream spaces if they could take over empty buildings in Ipswich. To kick start everyone’s imaginations in the workshop, Ellie and Richard took participants on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Ancient House.  They then talked them through the steps and tools young people could use to map out their dream ‘youthful’ spaces. This prompted some amazing creative ideas ranging from a chillout zone in the ‘Chapel Room’ in the attic space to a Zen garden and cafe space in the central courtyard. 
  • The evening culminated in an open forum with Jack Abbott. This covered Jack’s entry into politics and the rights and responsibilities of an MP. More importantly, it was an opportunity for Ipswich’s young people to share their opinions with Mr Abbott and ask him questions on a range of themes uppermost in their mind – including access to mental health support, SEND provision and the need for more creative youth-friendly spaces in the town.  

The event was coordinated by Hannah Houghton, Education and Young People’s Coordinator with the Thomas Wolsey 550 Project. Hannah, in summing up the evening said: “This felt like a very empowering evening for young people. I saw important conversations taking place in a safe and welcoming space where new friendships were forged and creative visions for Ipswich’s future shared.  All too often, us adults think we know what’s best for young people and our event demonstrated that, given an opportunity, young people have an immense capacity to communicate creative and realistic ideas that decision makers would be wise to take note of. I would like to offer my thanks to those who helped make the event happen and to all of those who attended.” 

Isabella Grieco, host of CHIp Youth Council’s Open Forums commented: “CHIp’s youth council and subsequent forums were formed to create spaces for young people to voice their opinions and learn from one another whilst gaining understanding of Ipswich’s political landscape. The Wolsey 550 project is spearheading this by bringing youth organisations, schools and creatives together through meaningful dialogue whilst powerfully illustrating ongoing youth work.” 

After the success of this event at the Ancient House, the Thomas Wolsey 550 Young Place-changers panel hopes to hold similar ones in the coming months with an even wider range of young people. To find out how you can get involved please watch out for further details on the Instagram and Facebook page @ThomasWolsey550, or the website 


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