BLACKPOOL may house some of the poorest children in the UK – but one youth project is giving youngsters hope for the future.
Workers at Boathouse Youth, started up a year ago in South Shore, literally trawled the streets searching for young people hanging around on streets, determined to set them on the right track.
And after a report revealed the resort is the ninth worst in the country when it comes to under-privileged youngsters, the charity has just secured new premises, at the old lifeboat station on Lytham Road.
Laurance Hancock, youth worker at the scheme, said: “There is no doubt South Shore is a deprived area.
“When we first started a year ago, we were constantly having to pull youngsters off each other because it was non-stop fighting.
“We were very strict and gave out red cards – on the first day we handed out 25 red cards, which bans them from the club for a week, so we had nobody at the second session.
“It was hard at first, but now, the change is unbelievable. They behave brilliantly, and get on with each other like a family.”
The recent report, by charity Save the Children, said 6,000, or 22 per cent of children in the resort, are living in poverty at a time when the council has to slash budgets.
Some £500,000 is set to be axed from Sure Start centres, which help deprived families, while cash for school uniforms is also being axed.
But the charity’s workers are determined to stay afloat and continue setting young people on the right track.
Mr Hancock added: “We decorated our new building ourselves and eventually want to build an IT suite when we have enough funds.
“We know there are problems in our area but we are working so hard to help these children.”
Jordan Greaves, 10, who has six brothers and two sisters, with two also attending Boathouse, said: “I love coming here.
“I had never been on holiday before I started coming, and now I’ve been canal boating, camping, and we’re going to London soon and I can’t wait.
“I have lots of friends here – before I started about a year ago I was just hanging around on the streets in the evenings.”
Boathouse Youth, which works in conjunction with Connexions officers dealing with 16-18 year-olds Not in Education or Employment (NEET), also run Youth Achievement Awards, accredited by national youth charity UK Youth.
Jake McGibney, 11, added: “When we first came here people did run wild, but Laurance and the other workers are really strict and taught us to behave properly. I didn’t really do anything in the evenings, so I was glad when we started having more Boathouse sessions. I’ve got loads of friends and I’m really happy.” Anyone who can donate to the club should contact (01253) 804902.