Youngsters fight for future of club

Young people outside Wallsend Boys Club emphasising the need for youth provision in the borough.
Young people outside Wallsend Boys Club emphasising the need for youth provision in the borough.

YOUNGSTERS fighting to save Wallsend Boys’ Club fear their efforts will be in vain unless help is forthcoming.

Teenagers gathered outside the club’s Station Road site on Friday to launch a campaign to keep the club going.

The youth club, one of the most famous in the north east, has been facing an uncertain future since it was forced to close the site, one of its two bases, by storm damage last month.

Its Bigges Main site remains open for business.

Over the past few weeks, efforts have been made to find a new hub for the activities formerly hosted by the Station Road club, but no long-term solution has been identified yet.

Following the collapse of a wall at the club in January, it emerged that the 47-year-old building was no longer fit for purpose and would have to be replaced.

Now users of the club are calling on North Tyneside Council and other organisations to support their campaign to save it.

Chairman Steve Dale said: “It was a very pleasant surprise to learn that a group of our young people, led by Ashleigh Harrison, had contacted the mayor, Linda Arkley, off their own back to explain in their own words why they valued the youth work at the club.

“For the staff and trustees it is obviously reassuring to know that the young people not only appreciate the work that has been done, but actively want to help to make sure it doesn’t have to come to an end.

“We just hope that enough people have the same determination that our young people have shown to get the youth provision up and running again.

“Judging by the comments being left on our online petition, people across Tyneside, and nationally, care very deeply about this issue.”

Mrs Arkley said: “Wallsend Boys’ Club makes an important contribution to this borough, as recognised through the financial support we have given them over the years, and I appreciate how highly valued it is by those who use it, particularly our children and young people.

“That is why officers from the council have been in close and regular contact with the management team at the club since they encountered problems with their premises in Station Road earlier this year to explore what help we can give them.

“We’ve already come to an agreement for the club to use pitches at the Parks Sports Centre in North Shields for their indoor and outdoor games, so they can continue to generate some income, and we’ve provided temporary office accommodation and access to IT facilities at the council’s Avon Avenue building in North Shields.

“We’ve also made the club aware of other alternative premises they may be able to use.

“We’ve recently asked the club’s management team to provide us with their business plan, and once we’ve received that, we can look at how we might be able to help them in the future.”