Youth of Lake Hawea now have a designated safe space to hang out in, with the launch of the youth centre last week.

The Cave, a space run by Kahu Youth and located at the Lake Hawea Community Centre, opened on November 15.

Kahu Youth programme coordinator Samantha Strong said the idea was proposed last year.

‘‘The project started as a seed in the Lake Hawea community’s head last year.

‘‘We did a survey and had a meet-and-greet with the community about what they envisioned a space like this would look like, [and] how it would serve the community.’’

They had been working on the space since June last year, and really started to transform it in January this year.

‘‘It was a bare shell of a basement . . . it was just a concrete square with nothing else in it.’’

The Upper Clutha Youth Council helped to paint the rainbow wall mural.

‘‘Then it’s been bits and pieces as we’ve received some lovely funding from donors and sponsors of the space.

‘‘If the need continues to grow, we’re hoping to extend the hours to a full weekly time.

‘‘Stay tuned for some holiday programmes as well.’’

Enterprise & Staffing Innovations NZ youth employment partner Sarah Millwater said it was great to see a permanent social space established.

‘‘Youth engagement is vital as the population grows and I hope there is a good amount of young people that go and enjoy this opportunity.

‘‘Having the lake and sports field nearby should make for some great summer activities,’’ she said.

The Cave is free and will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-5.30pm.