A popular youth project in a Moorlands town centre is appealing for additional support to help extend it’s services to the younger generation.
@21, The Young Peoples’ Place in Leek was founded as a charity in 1996 and was originally operated as a partnership between Staffordshire Youth Service, which employed the two qualified youth workers, and the @21 charity ‘Leek Town Centre Youth Project’, which funded the accommodation which is in Market Street.
However, the authority’s Youth Service closed at the end of 2014 and in order to maintain the service, the @21 management committee decided to fund the costs of hiring the two youth workers themselves.
@21 provides safe and structured environment where young people aged between 13 and 18 years can drop in and take part in a range of activities.
These include regular activities such as games of pool, cards, board games, boom box events and karaoke, while specific sessions focus on cooking simple cheap meals, mental health awareness, beauty therapy sessions and respect for one another.
The youth workers promote awareness of the dangers of drugs, alcohol and smoking; and information is provided about sexual health and exploitation too.
Snacks are provided for anyone who is hungry; and the youth workers are available to provide individuals with specific guidance if it is needed, and can sign post them to other professional agencies if required.
@21 is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6.30pm until 9.30pm during term time only.
The service also runs a year-round hourly five-a-side football session at Brough Park on a Monday evening.
The management committee is keen to extend the service so that @21 is open throughout the year; and the committee has plans to provide additional activities such as a 10-week dance workshop on the Haregate estate for the benefit of the young women who attend the project.
Currently the service costs £16,000 a year to run which includes staffing costs, the running costs of the accommodation and the costs of funding specific sessions such as the football group.
They receive no direct funding from the local authority, or central government and make no charge to users of the @21 service.
The @21 charity is managed by a group of community volunteers each of whom has knowledge in a specific area such as accounts, bidding for funds, social work, etc, and members of the management committee include representatives of the police, local churches, town and district councillors.
The charity relies on donations from the community – the latest donation of £500 was handed to them by Leek’s Town Crier Bill Lomas.
Anyone else wishing to support the @21 charity, either financially or by volunteering, can find out more by contacting the committee through the Facebook page ‘At21 Leek’.