WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Party time as youth club reopens months after being shut down

Residents said drug crime and 'gang' activity increased after centre was closed

07 April, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Karen Buck and Tim Roca join members of the Lydford Estate youth centre 

AT a time when many youth services are fighting to survive in the face of cuts, one community is celebrating the reopening of their youth club.

The Lydford Estate youth centre in Queen’s Park, which was run by CityWest Homes, was one of three run by the housing group to close in late 2015.

Teenagers from the area told West End Extra at the time that the loss of the centre would be “devastating”.

Latisha Stanley, a young person who regularly attends the centre, was among those celebrating on Friday, as she has won a Jack Petchey Award – £250 to spend on the youth club.

 She said: “I’m too excited right now to decide what I want to spend the money on, but it will be something different and fun.”

While the club has been closed there have been reports of more drug dealing and ‘gang’ activity in the area.

Harrow Road ward councillor Tim Roca at the time blamed a “lack of joined-up thinking”.

He said ward councillors had joined up with residents associations to figure out a solution, and soon had The Avenues Youth Project charity on board, ready to deliver new youth activities.

They secured funding from a range of sources, including a number of grants, CityWest Homes, the Harrow Road Ward Budget, and the centre has been able to reopen.

Cllr Roca said: “All this has had to be done because the council has slashed funding for young people, and its own youth charity is barely off the ground.

“The result, as you can see, is a thriving youth club, professionally run, and funded by real partnership working across the community.”

On Friday a celebration was held for the reopening of the centre, when young people were joined by Westminster North MP

Lydford Estate Tenants’ and Residents’ Association commit- tee member Maureen Pepper said: “It’s important that there is safe professional youth work taking place in the estate in order to knit the young people together.”

Martin Edgerton, executive director for customer services at CityWest Homes, said: “We are working alongside the community to deliver services in new ways. It is a positive example of people and organisations work- ing together to contribute to their community.”

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