Fears over Great Yarmouth youth club

A CRIME-BUSTING youth club that has helped spread understanding between young and old around the Great Yarmouth area faces closure if it does not get more volunteers.

Just three years ago, parts of Cobholm and Southtown were blighted by anti-social behaviour as bored youngsters hung out on street corners.

The arrival of Commoners Youth Club changed all that, with residents and police reporting less crime and club members getting involved with life-saving courses and group trips.

But now one of the women who founded the group, based in Claydon Pavilion, is worried that youngsters will be left with nowhere to go again if she does not get any help.

Lindsey Turner may have to lessen her involvement next year when she starts an Open University course, and her co-founder Maria Webster had to stop attending this week because of personal reasons.

The 35-year-old said: “I fear it closing and the kids could start getting into trouble again and things could go back to how they used to be.

“We’ve got a lovely bunch of youngsters, and in my experience when they come here they tend to get a lot more friendly and be grown up.”

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The group was set up in 2007 with help from the local police team.

It was initially for the over 14s, and attracted more than 30 youngsters each week.

Eventually it joined with another club being run for a younger age group, seven to 12-year olds.

And as well as offering a sanctuary from boredom with a pool table, tuck shop and computers, its members have done everything from fundraising days through to trips to the Houses of Parliament in London.

One event that Lindsey, recalls particularly fondly was a garden day project involving elderly residents from nearby Manor Close.

Describing the change in those who got involved as “unbelievable”, she added: “We would never get the older people mixing with the young.

“To them they’re hoodies or thugs, but they were interacting and one or two were even helped with getting online.

“It really showed that the kids aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be.”

Police Community Support Officer Lee Brown is part of the Cobholm and Southtown Safer Neighbourhood Team which has worked with Commoners Youth Club.

She said: “We have now reached a point where we are desperate for more volunteers.

“Since the club opened we have seen a reduction in anti-social behaviour with fewer groups of young people hanging around the streets and we need to keep it that way.”

Commoners Youth Club meets every Monday from 5-7pm until November 9, when it moves to a Tuesday. Anyone interested in volunteering and helping save the club can contact Lindsey on 07593 269712.