Fresh hope for Yarmouth youth centre

JUST a week after a Great Yarmouth youth centre was destroyed in an arson attack, the community has rallied to give the youngsters it caters for a fighting chance to get their lives back.

JUST a week after a Great Yarmouth youth centre was destroyed in an arson attack, the community has rallied to give the youngsters it caters for a fighting chance to get their lives back.

Now Newtown Youth Centre is hoping the people of Yarmouth - and Norfolk - give it their all as they fight head to head against a an Essex-based charity to win a pot of gold to rebuild.

The centre is on countdown to push to win the �50,000 in the ITV People's Millions vote this month - and it is hoping the whole of the community will back it.

Last week, tearful and shocked youngsters raced to the centre after hearing it had been burgled and set alight. It wasn't much to look at, it only had the basics, but for the 200-plus youngsters who used the building two nights a week it could have been seen as the centre of their universe.

They already knew they had won the chance to show the eastern region they were worthy winners and how the money would be spent wisely on improvements and a new replacement building. But the fire blackened not only their centre but their spirits.

However, like the phoenix rising out of the ashes, the tragedy is proving the work at the centre is appreciated and recognised and offers of help to rebuild and re-equip are coming in thick and fast.

Most Read

Centre secretary Carl Harding and chairman wife Julie have smiles back on their faces - albeit tentative.

Carl explained: “My wife and I were seriously talking about our futures, but we are in too deep to walk away. It was a very successful youth centre.

“The fire has left us with nothing, the kitchen is totally devastated. The contents were insured but not the building. Basically we have lost everything.”

But what Carl and Julie didn't know was just how their plight would touch the hearts of the surrounding community and the town, and how they have been inundated with offers of help - not cash, but of practical help to rewire electrics, donations of furniture, tables and chairs, carpet, flooring - to get the centre up and running as quickly as possible.

One of the first to offer major practical help was the nearby Haven Seashore Holiday Centre in North Denes. They are to open their gates once a month to groups of youth centre members to take advantage of the varied activities such as archery, climbing walls, fencing.

Seashore has also gone several steps further: calling suppliers and telling them of the youth centre's plight and asking for help - and on the way are footballs and a laser printer - and that's just the start; they've also donated a maintenance worker for a week.

Yarmouth Police have long recognised the need to engage with youngsters and disprove the myth of “them” and “us” and have a lengthy relationship with the centre and its members. When the sale of recovered stolen property raised �2,000 the police handed over the money to Carl and Julie leaving them to decide how to spend it.

Fifty-six youngsters had already saved up and paid �25 each for a Halloween trip to Alton Towers - what they didn't know when they boarded the bus was they were to get back that �25 to spend at the fun park - and the �2,000 donated by the police would cover the whole cost of the day out.

Carl explained the delighted and unbelieving looks of happiness of those youngsters' faces, who only days earlier had seen their youth centre destroyed, said it all. Someone did care about how they were feeling - it wasn't all about bricks and mortar.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has also stepped in to make the centre's future more secure; with security of tenure on the land being looked at. And more commitments to help have also been made: the Marina Centre has been offered as a temporary "home" for the youngsters so they have somewhere to go to keep up friendships and relationships until the new building is ready.

Now, with the foundations laid, Newtown Youth Centre is asking the people of Yarmouth - and Norfolk - to get behind it and vote, vote, vote by telephone for the People's Millions cash boost to see it on its way.

It is the dream of all the adult volunteers and helpers to extend the centre's opening from just two nights a week to five, giving youngsters somewhere to go to play games and activities, chat among themselves, ask advice or talk about problems in their lives.

The philosophy at the youth centre is based on politeness and respect to each other, and where "please" and "thank you" are common courtesies. Where youngsters learn to recognise the strengths and weaknesses of not only themselves, but also in others.

And it is hoped to be able to roll this out to other towns in Norfolk and the region.

ANGLIA TV will be filming at the youth centre and then televise the programme showing what the centre is all about. The phone number will be announced on Anglia on November 24, and from November 25 from 9am to midnight, people can vote by calling a special number. The voting phone number will be available on the People's Millions website - people. A short video about both competing projects will also be shown on the ITV regional news between 6pm and 6.30pm.

THE Mercury is this week launching an appeal to help the youth centre replace what it has lost in the fire - and it's not bricks and mortar. The items most needed are:

Ply Boards for flooring

Doors x2

Sweets and crisps and drinks

Tea coffee and sugar

Cups, beakers and mugs

Rubbish bins

Toilet rolls

Hand paper towels

Fire extinguishers tea towels

Water/tea urn


Slow cooker

Spoons and forks

Storage units

Arts and crafts


Make up/hair and beauty

Wool/knitting needles


Football table

Badminton/tennis/outside sports equipment

Basket balls

Skipping ropes


Drum kit


Ps3 games consoles


Sky box

DVD players



Storage boxes

Referee kit

Football kits x5


Pens and pencils


A4 paper

Gilt teen



Halogen heaters x2

Christmas lights and decorations

White boards

Notice boards


Goal keeping gloves and football bibs

If anyone can help by supplying some of these items, please call Carl Harding on 0780 7007183.

AND here is a list of the items already received and the people and companies who have donated them. We're hoping as the “wanted” list goes down, this list will increase:

PJ's fish and chip shop Northgate Street (on day of fire produced drinks and chips for kids)

Elm builders/contactors, paint and wood and kitchen units( not delivered yet though)

Community Trust, arts and tables and chairs and footballs

Haven Seashore, new burglar alarm, new tuck shop stock, maintenance worker for one week to work at centre, tickets for children to see fireworks show, donation of firework gate monies to centre, various other donations to many to mention without doubt the top people so far just brilliant.

Val Cadmore, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, kettle and payment for electrics to be sorted

Norfolk Constabulary (superb just superb)

Norfolk youth services

Norfolk children's services