A successful youth group set up by concerned parents has been given some future security, thanks to a cash windfall.
The Springfield Youth Group was launched in Chelmsford the summer after reports of increased antisocial behaviour in the area had parents worried.
Mum-of-five Shirley Hume, whose children range in age from 13 to 32, was aware there were not the same social opportunities for her younger children that her older ones had enjoyed.
After turning to social media to suggest her idea of launching a place for youngsters to go, Ms Hume was inundated with volunteers keen to help.
The group, which meets every Friday at Springfield Parish Centre, was launched within a few months and now sees up to 87 children aged 11 to 16 attending.
In the latest Community Safety Development Fund distribution from Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, the group was awarded £5,691.30.
Ms Hume, who has been on safeguarding, youth work and first aid courses with her volunteers, said: “I have so many ideas about what I want to do. Parents are asking for us to set up a group for younger children; I would also like to hold an evening for young people with special needs and one for those who are young carers. Ultimately, I want my own building where I could hold a community café and offer somewhere for parents to come along with their children, particularly disabled children.
“This money means we can pay a year’s rent, get some outdoor equipment for the summer and book to take the children to the panto next year, which we could not afford this year.”
As well as providing popular pastimes such as karaoke, games consoles, creative arts and sports, the club also launched the Give A Little Back project where youths collected gifts together and made hampers to give to elderly people and those in need around the community.
Ms Hume said: “That idea came from the children.
“I wanted to bring the youth club into this century. I didn’t want it to be like the youth clubs of years ago. Basically, the club gives young people somewhere to go. Without it, they would just be hanging around the streets and causing a problem for people who live around here.
“There are still a few young people around who are yet to come off the streets and join in, but I go out to them and have a laugh and a joke and slowly, slowly I know they will come around. It has to be their idea to come along.
“I had an inkling the group would be successful, but did not know it would take off in the way it has; the community have been brilliant.”
Spencer Clarke, public protection manager for the area, has seen a dramatic improvement in antisocial behaviour in the area as a result of the group.
He said: “Springfield was suffering from an unprecedented amount of antisocial behaviour, criminal damage and youth nuisance in early 2017.
“Springfield Youth Group have played a key role in providing an important outlet for the children of Springfield on a Friday night. It is really pleasing to see the group grow and make a real difference in their community by introducing intergenerational projects with local care homes.”
For more information and to find out how to apply visit https://www.essex.pfcc.police.uk/giving-you-a-voice/commissioning-services/
The closing date for applications is Wednesday, January 31st, 2018.
If your enquiry relates to operational policing or a crime please contact Essex Police here