Young people in Cambridgeshire’s biggest new community are being supported by Romsey Mill.

Northstowe is a new community being developed north of Cambridge, with a current population of over 4,000 (expected to grow to 26,000 by 2042). 

Romsey Mill has been partnering with the Northstowe Youth Hive to help establish youth provision in this new town and respond to the needs of local young people.

In November 2022, some initial funding from Cambridgeshire County Council enabled Romsey Mill to appoint Emma Whitbread, Northstowe’s first Youth Development Worker.

In the past year, Emma has been able to engage with over 200 young people in Northstowe, creating opportunities with them to have a space to meet, that is welcoming and enables them to make friends and try new and interesting activities.

Emma said:

“It was immediately apparent that the young people in Northstowe were desperate for something to join in with, and a safe space to be able to meet with friends and do fun things.

“However, they weren’t just articulating their own needs, they also expressed a clear desire to be able to play their part in helping to shape Northstowe to meet the needs of the whole community.”

Emma added:

“I see my role in supporting young people where they are; but also helping their voice to be heard and for them to be involved and engaged in local decisions about the place they live and are growing up.”

The youth work that Emma delivers in Northstowe is varied, comprising community outreach and detached youth work; organising open-access youth clubs; and delivering more targeted support for young people.

Talking with young people about what’s going on in their lives and listening to what they want to do is a key aspect of Emma’s work.

Emma has been able to set up and establish a new weekly open-access youth club for young people who are in school years 7-9.  This group meets in The Cabin, which is the new temporary community centre in Northstowe, that was erected in the summer of 2023.

She has also built good relationships with local schools in Northstowe. Emma supports young people at Northstowe Secondary College, with one-to-one and small group sessions for those young people who may be having difficulty in coping at school and delivers some Alternative Education provision. She also runs several lunchtime groups at the school for young people that need to have a quieter space during the lunch breaks; and supports year 6 pupils during their transition from primary to secondary school.   

Reflecting on the past 18 months, Emma said:

“I love working in Northstowe.

The young people here are amazing. They are also incredibly resilient, and have coped with change so well, all moving here from other parts of Cambridgeshire, the UK or different countries.

We have been able to make an excellent start. However, we recognise that there is so much more to do – and we want to be able to respond to all of the needs that young people are experiencing.   We would love to be able to do more.

The number of young people in Northstowe will continue to grow. And we already need to have more resources to support them.

They also need to have a dedicated physical space, where they can belong and develop a sense of ownership.  

Recognising Northstowe’s rapidly expanding influence, Emma said:

“Northstowe has already become a hub for neighbouring communities. Young people are at the heart of that, through being at local schools where they meet friends who live in nearby villages. They want to have dedicated spaces outside of school when they can meet their friends, socially.”

Emma is supported in her work in Northstowe, by a part-time youth worker and a passionate volunteer.

If you are interested in supporting the youth work in Northstowe, through volunteering, giving financially, or in other ways, please contact Emma (email: [email protected] )


 What the young people say:

Here are some comments that the young people have shared about the youth work in Northstowe:

  • “The youth club has helped me to build confidence and to make new friends.”
  • “Romsey Mill has helped me with qualifications in cooking, to learn new skills and trying new things.”
  • “The youth club is very important to me because it helps me with talking to people and it gives me something to do.
  • “I am listened to by the youth workers.”
  • “Everyone is nice and the youth workers have helped us if we ever needed anything to talk about”
  • “The youth worker has have given me techniques to help control my emotions more.”
  • “It’s really fun!”


In March 2024, we asked the young people to complete a survey about Romsey Mill’s youth work:

·         83% expressed an improvement in feeling safe in their community. 

·         83% expressed an improvement in their ability to have a positive impact on others in their community.     

·         88% expressed an improvement in their ability to get on with others.         

·         82% expressed an improvement in their wellbeing.

·         100% said: “The youth workers respect me and my background.”


May 2024