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Felixstowe: Youth project celebrates a special milestone

08:00 17 November 2012

Youngsters at a session at Level Two in Felixstowe.

Youngsters at a session at Level Two in Felixstowe.

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A CELEBRATION cake will be cut today to mark the tenth birthday of an organisation which has helped thousands of young people over the past decade.

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The special anniversary is being marked by the Level Two youth project and everyone involved with the group is hoping parents, youngsters and members of the community will join them for the occasion.

The celebration is taking place at the Spa Pavilion lounge from 2pm to 4.30pm with displays about the project’s activities, plus cake and refreshments, and music from Huthier.

It will be a chance for people to find out about the work of the project, which is based at Walton House, Walton High Street, over the last decade and also its plans for the future.

One aspect where Level Two will be extending its work is by increasing the age range of the young people it helps.

It currently works with 11 to 19-year-olds, but is now to begin working with ten to 25-year-olds, which will enable staff to work with those in year 6 in transition to high school by offering taster sessions, and also to work with those aged 16 to 25 to assist those who are in further education or NEET.

The group first ran a drop-in project in 1994 called The Zone in premises next to Felixstowe Town Hall.

Then in 2002 – thanks to lottery backing – it launched Level Two in premises above Tesco in the town centre.

It was a highly-successful base for the project, enabling it to help about 800 youngsters every year.

However, when the recession hit the project was one of many left fighting for diminishing funds available from trusts, councils and foundations with its struggle for funding even leaving it facing the threat of closure at one point.

In the end the management team took the decision to move – relocating to a smaller base in Walton House in High Street, Walton.

Although smaller than their previous home, the new premises has office space and rooms set aside for one-to-one mentoring for teenagers, and officials say the move has been a success and enabled them to expand the services offered.

The youth group also now uses the youth and community education centre in the grounds of Felixstowe Academy’s Maidstone Campus, Maidstone Road, for open sessions and activities requiring more space.

On average between 20 and 40 young people attend the open access youth club sessions.

Last year, the total number of contacts with young people was 4,963, compared to 2,945 in 2010 – an increase of 60 per cent.

The number of different young people helped was 364, of whom 237 visited on three or more occasions, a 70pc increase.

Chairman David Rowe said: “The past year has seen Level Two as the main provider of youth work in Felixstowe.

“We continue to provide a wide range of services and activities for young people including open sessions at the Community Education Centre, mentoring, advice and support, dance sessions, health matters drop-in at the academy, Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme and a number of special events and projects. The numbers of young people has grown, particularly at the open sessions.

“The management board has been strengthened with a number of new members. This has broadened our skill base and places the project in a very strong position to continue to move forward.

“As predicted last year, finances have been tight but we have continued to attract funding from local councils and other public sector bodies as well as securing funding from a number of trusts. We are also fortunate to be well supported by the local community who continue to assist with our financial needs.”

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