TWO sisters are supporting Xtrax in its bid to raise £50,000 to secure its future after the youth centre helped them in a time of crisis.
Lisa and Sofi Stretten, aged 18 and 20, have turned their lives around since first making contact with Xtrax two years ago.
Since then, they say the staff, volunteers, and other young people at the centre have become their surrogate family.
Sofi has just started a new job at Tesco, while Lisa is about to go to Sicily to volunteer as a dance and drama teacher for nine months.
Their future has not always looked so bright.
Both originally from Ore, Lisa first came to Xtrax after being made homeless aged 17, and soon after introduced Sofi to the centre, who at the time was living in a hostel and in desperate need of help.
Xtrax gave Lisa the support to find a place to live. She said: “Xtrax has made a huge difference to our lives and importantly brought us closer together. There is nowhere like it.
“It is a really safe place to come. The staff are willing to help and support you with everything.
“People like me and Sofi, we really needed it.”
Xtrax, based in Harold Place, in the town centre, is a drop-in centre offering a range of facilities for young people aged 16 to 25, including information and advice, recreational and entertainment facilities, showers and cheap food.
Andrew Batsford, Xtrax project manager emphasised the centre’s family atmosphere. “We celebrate in their successes,” he said.
The Xtrax Big Week running from November 21 to 27 will bring a range of fundraising events, which aim to get the whole community involved, along with local businesses.
The fundraising target for the week is £50,000, enough to keep the centre running for six months.
Mufti the Monkey is mascot for the week, and will be making appearances throughout, including accompanying Cllr Kim Forward on The Mayor’s Challenge, aiming to visit as many of the town’s primary schools as possible in a single day, on Wednesday, November 23.
Lisa and Sofi are involved in both the record-breaking 7km conga attempt, dancing off from the town hall at 9.45am on Saturday, November 19, and the eight-hour puppet show being staged in Priory Meadow on Wednesday, November 23.
The young people involved in the sponsored puppet show have started from scratch, and have already been working for months to create the booth, along with the puppets and scripts.
The fun starts at 9am, from which time the puppeteers will be entertaining shoppers with urban fairytales and high drama.
All week, the young people of Xtrax will be getting creative in order to raise the much-needed cash, including bag-packing at supermarkets and fundraising on the streets.
Follow Xtrax on Twitter @XtraxTheBigWeek, search for ‘Xtrax BigWeek’ on Facebook, call 01424 722524, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.