Photo gallery: Two years after its reopening youth club surges in popularity

Hellesdon youth club. From left: Ellie and Mia Richards, Emma Light, Richard Grady, Ellie Norton and Louise Richards. Photo: Bill Smith Hellesdon youth club. From left: Ellie and Mia Richards, Emma Light, Richard Grady, Ellie Norton and Louise Richards. Photo: Bill Smith

Monday, June 16, 2014
5:01 PM

Children and hard-working volunteers from a popular Hellesdon club are praising its success two years after it was reopened.

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Making loom bands - the latest craze at Hellesdon youth club. Photo: Bill SmithMaking loom bands - the latest craze at Hellesdon youth club. Photo: Bill Smith

Hellesdon Youth Club had to close in May 2011 after Norfolk County Council cut its youth services as part of a package of cost-saving measures.

As a result of the cutbacks, the weekly club, based at Hellesdon High School, on Middletons Lane, lost its youth worker.

But after nearly a year of campaigning, the community has worked together to re-establish the weekly Friday night session, which now sees up to 50 young people attend.

Ellie Richards, who studied graphic design at the then Norwich University College of the Arts, was instrumental in helping the club get back on its feet.

She first got on board when she wanted to volunteer there, only to discover it had closed down.

The 23-year-old, who now works in London, said: “A lot of the kids that come here have been coming since we reopened. We would like to get lots more new people coming too – especially with the new term starting in September.”

Miss Richards has been supported by former police worker Richard Grady, her mum Louise Richards and sister Mia Richards since the club reopened in April 2012. There are now 10 volunteers.

Mrs Richards, 45, of Hellesdon, said: “It’s nice to see the children enjoying themselves here. The older kids look out for the younger kids and I like seeing that.

“If just one kid likes the food or says thank you, for me, that’s what makes it worthwhile.”

Mr Grady, 67, also of Hellesdon, added: “It’s all about Cameron’s Big Society for me. They are a good bunch of kids who come here and I like to see them having fun and having somewhere to go.”

The youth club was originally formed in 2008 after local youth complained they had nowhere to go and nothing to do.

It is now open for Hellesdon High School students every Friday from 6.45pm until 8.45pm and costs £1 per session. The school allows the club free use of its dining hall.

There is always a variety of activities from Xbox connect and crafts to badminton and rounders. A selection of food and drink is also included and sometimes the young people are taken on free trips and visited by other organisations.

Year nine pupils and friends Abbi Pardon and Caitlin Tuttle, both aged 14, have been attending the club since it reopened and enjoy playing badminton together.

Miss Pardon said: “I like to come here to talk to people and meet new people. It’s nice to get out of the house.”

Miss Tuttle added: “It’s a good way to meet people you wouldn’t normally get to meet at school.”

Ryan Hobson, 14, is also in year nine. He said: “It’s something to do on a Friday night. It’s a good place to meet friends.”

Are you interested in joining Hellesdon Youth Club or volunteering for it? Visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/HellesdonYouthClub, Twitter at www.twitter.com/HellesdonYouth or email hellesdonyouthclub@live.co.uk.

Are you campaigning to save a community facility? Email reporter donna-louise.bishop@archant.co.uk.

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