A youth group which was on the brink of closure has been given a last-minute reprieve – thanks to a £273,000 grant from the Big Lottery.
Staff and volunteers at Boldon Positive Activities were preparing to close the doors for a final time last October, after an application for funding was denied.
Withouth the funding we would have closed.Cheryl Spamer
However, after submitting a second appeal for help to the Big Lottery, the organisation gave the group the thumbs-up, awarding them £273,065 over three years from the Reaching Communities pot of cash.
The group provides activities for young people and supports them in various awards schemes, with about 80 youngsters attending each week.
Young volunteers also facilitate a weekly senior social event, which has proved a hit with older residents.
Co-ordinator, Cheryl Spamer, said: “The money had ran out in October, but we carried on, knowing we would eventually have to close the doors after our first application was knocked back. We applied again and were successful. It really has saved the project, as without the funding, we would have closed.
“We can’t begin to say how grateful we are for the funding, which is enabling us to carry on for at least the next three years.”
The project was started in a bid to slash anti-social behaviour, something Boldon councillor Joanne Bell says has been achieved.
Coun Bell said: “When we thought the project might close we were all really concerned as it has really helped to reduce anti-social behaviour in the area.
“The project is also giving our young people the chance to take part in training schemes and learning new skills, which will increase their employability.
“Without the funding it would have closed, and it has become such a big part in the lives of our young people.
“Cheryl has done an amazing job in keeping the project open and making it such a success.”
As well as the youth club, young people who attend the project also have access to an allotment plot. Last year they grew vegetables, which were then distributed to the areas older residents.
Mrs Spamer added: “We have increased community involvement with our young people, helped to break down barriers between the generations and introduced healthy living to our young people through cooking sessions and sports activities.”
The group is also supported by South Tyneside Homes, The Foundation of Light, Northumbria Police, Asda, Boldon Community Centre and the area’s ward councillors.