A derelict village school near Wakefield has been transformed into a state of the art community centre by the Young Peoples Future project and National Lottery funding. The SESKU area South Elmsall, South Kirkby and Upton community has suffered since the demise of the mining industry which has led to low socio-economic factors such as high levels of anti social behaviour, increases in crime, teenage pregnancy and high levels of NEET young people. A lack of ambition and confidence in the community is evident and most young people have a lack of trust in adults, but the most disturbing issue is children and young people’s lack of aspiration and hope for their futures.
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With Lottery funding the project offers sports, arts, social clubs, education and employability sessions. Adam Redfern, Manager, said: “Young Peoples Future reaches out to the young people that are most in need. We aim to break the cycle of deprivation, high unemployment rates and low education. We offer young people a safe and supportive environment where they can take part in activities and build their confidence and raise aspirations.”
In the first year, 600 people attended the centre which includes a community cafe, youth rooms, cinema, training rooms and a workshop.The centre’s main building also houses local community groups for free, from, football, pool, dance, fencing to arts and crafts.
One teenager, Beth, was regularly getting into trouble with the police, drinking on the streets and missing school. After leaving school, Beth started to attend the youth club and worked closely with project workers. She has stopped drinking and getting into trouble, has starting to lead dance classes and youth groups and found a job.
She says: “Young People’s Future has been great and have helped me to sort my life out and get back on track. They also put me through my Zumba instructor course which has boosted my confidence and increased my initiative to try harder at life to achieve my goals!”