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Over £1.5M raised to establish education and community centre

Posted on 26 June 2024

More than £1.5 million has so far been raised to establish a new education and community space, offering children and young people of Westfield fair access to new opportunities.

From left: Sally Dillon (Aviva), Jo Young (The Place), Lydia van den Dries (University of York), Lorna Eastwood (Persimmon), Mia Povall (Persimmon), Holly Hennell (York Cares), Jamie Kew-Robson (Aviva).

Sanderson House in Westfield has been renovated and renamed, The Place, thanks to philanthropic support from individuals and companies such as Aviva, Hiscox, Persimmon and Portakabin.

After meeting with several schools and many families in the area to understand the challenges they face, the centre team co-created programmes of learning to help young people achieve their goals and future ambitions in life.  

Work is now due to start on the centre’s garden to create an area for outdoor activities, nature-connectedness, and relaxation. Representatives from Aviva and Persimmon have been working on the garden improvement project - an example of one of the many employee volunteering opportunities at the centre.

Next stages

The team is also set to embark on the next stage of the fundraising campaign to secure the long-term future of the centre, giving even more young people and their families the opportunity to benefit from its programmes.

The corporate donors will support the centre by co-creating programmes that will help children and young people in the area to develop professional skills and offer guidance on routes into employment.

Led by the University of York, in partnership with Westfield Primary Community School and York High School, the centre is open Monday to Friday, 50 weeks of the year for a range of free activities on offer including study and play sessions, as well as dedicated time to support adults in the community.

Employment skills

David Schofield, Sustainability Director at Aviva, said: “Aviva is a proud supporter of The Place, a fantastic initiative designed to help Westfield’s young people access the support they need to get ready for their futures. 

“We’re developing a programme focused on building employment skills and will work closely with the local community to help to improve educational and social outcomes for the next generation.”

The Centre will soon be announcing its summer holiday programme, which will involve programmes in collaboration with York Theatre Royal, Yorkshire Museums Trust, and Head Gardener at Museum Gardens for a series of cultural events and activities, as well as ‘lunch labs’ to teach cooking skills and the impact of different food on our bodies.

Inspirational learning

Lucy Hensher, Hiscox Foundation Trustee, said: “As a major local employer, Hiscox is passionate about contributing to its local communities, and The Place is a great example of an initiative that will make a real difference where it matters most. We’re proud to extend our support and excited for the impact it will have.”

Anthony Vigor, Chair of the Trustees at the Persimmon Foundation, said: “The Persimmon Foundation is delighted to be able to help The Place fulfil its mission as an inspirational learning centre, supporting young people in Chapelfields to achieve their potential.”

Get involved

Jo Young, The Place Centre Manager, said: “Although York is an affluent city, not many people realise that the city is one of just six local authorities nationally in which, at the end of primary school, disadvantaged students are over a year behind their more affluent peers.

“We are determined to address this inequity through a vibrant and inspiring programme of activity and opportunity, which is carefully evaluated and designed to meet the aims. 

“In order to benefit more young people and families living in the area, we need more businesses and donors from across York to get involved and encourage anyone who is keen to know more about how they can give to The Place to get in touch.”

Further information:

For more information on The Place and to join the mailing list for regular updates, visit the website:

If you are a business interested in connecting with young people in Westfield to raise awareness of opportunities in your industry, please contact

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