Success for Northampton youth club offering food and study facilities to disadvantaged children

New facilities for children to do their homework at Thorplands youth and after school club
New facilities for children to do their homework at Thorplands youth and after school club
  • After school clubs give deprived children the chance to use modern facilities for their homework and socialise with other members of the community for free
  • Members who also attend the weekly youth clubs have the chance to go on group excursions during school holidays
  • Charity manager, Lisa Hickling, said they are still looking for more members to sign up

A Northampton community club offering free food, fun and learning facilities to children in the Thorplands area of town has proved to be a success in its first few months.

The new after-school club, launched in September by independent company and charity Thorplands & Thorplands Brook Co-operative Ltd, has been fully subscribed from the beginning, but is still looking to include more members.

The club has benefited the children in many different ways and I believe that both deserve recognition

Jessica Martin, staff volunteer

Manager of the project, Lisa Hickling, said: “Community projects can be slow to get going, but this has done really well.

“We planned to have about 15-20 members each week and we had well over that on the first day. Now we have an average of at least 15 per session.

“It’s probably down to the offer of free meals and refreshments, as well as the chance to socialise in the evening and use computers and research facilities for homework.”

The 49-year-old takes care of the food shopping and administration for the club, open from 4.30-6pm on Thursdays, as well as running the two Thorplands junior and senior youth clubs on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Based in Farmfield Court in Thorplands, the clubs are staffed by one paid youth leader and three volunteers.

One of them, University of Northampton student Jessica Martin said: “It’s a safe environment which offers underprivileged children the opportunity to take part in activities, trips and fundraising events in order to receive the support they need while expressing their energy in a positive way.

“The club has benefited the children in many different ways and I believe that both deserve recognition.”

Funding has been supplied by The People’s Health Lottery and local authorities, allowing the charity to buy laptops and tablets and provide free printing for school work.

Members who attend the regular youth clubs are also given the opportunity to take part in educational excursions, such as to local police and fire service stations, and seasonal jollies. Over the Easter holiday, they will be heading for the first time to the West Midlands Safari Park for some springtime fun away from home.

Miss Hickling said: “The clubs have had a really positive impact on children and teens in the area. It allows them to learn new things, engage with different members of the community, it gives them something to do on the estate outside of school and the trips give them a chance to get away from the area completely.

“It’s a very locally focussed project: we take part in consultations and share ideas with local residents’ associations to make sure everyone is happy.

“Our aim ultimately is to target the most deprived areas and bring everyone in the community together. While we mainly take in young people from Thorplands and Thorplands Brook, we do have some members from other surrounding areas.”

All clubs run by the charity are offered free of charge with the exception of the tuck shop where prices are kept to a minimum for members, A small deposit is required for half terms trips.

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