Youngsters get a place to call their own

A woman who spent years battling for a much-needed youth shelter has finally seen her dream come true. And just days after having it installed the village has already noticed a dramatic difference.

A woman who spent years battling for a much-needed youth shelter has finally seen her dream come true.

And just days after having it installed the village has already noticed a dramatic difference.

Security guards say there has been less trouble, and residents agree the place has become more peaceful.

Julie Parker, 45, first started campaigning for somewhere for Hoveton's youngsters to congregate in 2003.

She said: “These kids have nowhere to go and nothing to do. That's how they start getting into trouble.

“To stay off the street they would all pile around my house. Often there'd be up to 25 people in my sitting room.

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“There's also a horrific drug culture here. They need somewhere safe to stop them getting involved in it.

“If this will stop one kid from taking drugs then it's all been worthwhile.”

Helping Hands Residents' Association, of which Mrs Parker is fundraising officer, was so concerned about the lack of facilities for young people that members pledged £2,500 to the cause.

But to buy the metal, canopied structure, another £5,000 was needed.

So Mrs Parker's 15-year-old daughter, Amberelle, wrote to the North Norfolk Youth Fund asking for a grant for the remaining money.

The only problem was where to put the structure.

Mrs Parker, who lives on Stalham Road, Hoveton, said: “We needed somewhere we could keep an eye on them and where they'd be safe. The village hall was the perfect place but the committee needed convincing.

“There is a lot of vandalism around here and you can understand them not wanting to encourage it.

“But they were fantastic and have now given us permission. The kids have been given a great chance and they'd be mad to mess it up.”

Rachel Flatters, 16, said: “All we want to do is meet up and hang out with each other. We wanted somewhere we could go off the streets and now we've finally got it.”

Such is the success of the new shelter Mrs Parker is now being allowed to start a youth club up at Hoveton village hall.

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