Southwold youngsters at the helm of new youth base

YOUNGSTERS are being encouraged to take charge of a �60,000 project to launch a new youth centre in Southwold.

Organisers of The Loft youth club are giving young people licence to choose the facilities and activities they want to see before it launches this summer.

The club will cater for 25 young people aged 11 to 18 in a converted loft space at the Stella Peskett Millennium Hall on Mights Road.

It is a project welcomed by young people and Suffolk police as a means of keeping youngsters out of petty crime and giving them a place to spend time with their friends.

Meanwhile, Suffolk County Council has confirmed funding will be withdrawn from Reydon senior youth club this July.

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But organisers at the club said an effort will be made to keep it running on a voluntary basis.

Keith Meldrum, youth worker for the church of St Edmund in Southwold, has been the driving force behind The Loft.

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He said: 'There is lots of things for young people to do in Southwold if they want something structured like Scouts, but there isn't an awful lot of provision for those who just want to spend time with their friends. We feel there needs to be something more for young people in this town.

'We want to find out what facilities they would like to see, whether they want specific activities like a table football tournament, or if there is a demand for a homework club.

'But we also want to hear from residents who are concerned, or anyone who would like to volunteer at the youth centre.'

At present, The Loft needs to secure �60,000 to pay for renovation work on the building and the running of the centre for a year.

It is envisaged the youth club will run two to three days a week and be open before the school holidays this summer.

Jack Partridge, 15, of Reydon, believes it can only be a good thing for young people.

He said: 'It will give us a quiet place to go and do our homework and somewhere to hang out with our friends. I think it can be really popular.'

Hayley Henderson, 15, of Reydon, said: 'Most people just sit at home and don't do much. It will give us an opportunity to do stuff as a group, and in the community.'

It is hoped the youth centre will inspire youngsters to form their own committee and engage in fund-raising activities for Southwold and Reydon.

Sgt Nigel Tompsett, head of the Southwold and Halesworth Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: 'I thoroughly welcome this as an initiative for Southwold and Reydon. We would want to work with the organisers as we like to see good work happening in the area. The last thing we want is for young people to become bored and get involved in petty crime.'

Meanwhile, Graham Langley, chairman of Southwold and Reydon Recreational Development Council, said the Reydon senior youth club based on Wangford Road, Reydon, will not close.

He said: 'We are planning to keep the youth club going and run it on a voluntary basis.

People can voice their opinions on new youth club The Loft at a vision day this Saturday, January 21, from 11am until 1pm at the Stella Peskett Millenium Hall.

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