North Lynn Discovery Centre keen to expand

North Lynn's Discovery Centre has officially opened its new extension – but has plans to hit greater heights.

The centre provides a wide range of services for children and young people in King's Lynn and received �575,000 from the East of England Development Agency for extra space.

Since it opened its doors in 2002, thousands of young people have been helped by the Columbia Way centre.

When the building was originally refurbished, a double foundation was laid to allow for another floor to be added in the future. With rising numbers of users, staff at the centre are raising their sights.

'We had 240 kids a day in here during the summer holidays and 3,000 from around the area have used us,' said centre manager Jimmy Yallop.

The centre provides everything from day-long drop-in sessions and child care to midnight football and a variety of educational courses.

'We have a recording studio that's second to none and we can offer youngsters access to things that they could not normally do. It's all about the kids and we are always here for them,' said Mr Yallop.

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The centre also offers training in conjunction with the College of West Anglia for teenagers not in education, employment or training (NEET).

'We want them to stay in education and to get a good career. They can take a factory job at 16 and earn �100 a week – but five years later they will still be earning �100 a week and will be bored out of their brains. We want them to do well,' said Mr Yallop.

He said that the demise of the regional development agency, as part of the government's cost-cutting measures, was disappointing for the centre because it had always been very supportive.

'We don't have professional bid-writers here. I could be cleaning the toilets, driving a mini-bus and then sitting down to write a bid for extra funding from someone.' But he hoped that funding could still be secured to take the centre to a new level – with the addition of another floor to the building.

The centre, which is also supported by both Norfolk and West Norfolk councils, also operates an outreach service and has recently re-opened a youth club in Welney and has plans for another in Monks Close, Bircham Newton. 'We go the extra mile for the youngsters – often picking them up and taking them home again. But, that's what it is all about,' said Mr Yallop.

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