Club's thumbs up from the Government

A LUNCHTIME club set up to keep youngsters off the streets in the Whitton area of Ipswich has today been singled out for praise by the Government.

A LUNCHTIME club set up to keep youngsters off the streets in the Whitton area of Ipswich has today been singled out for praise by the Government.

The Br8ktime club was founded by residents and St Mary and Boltoph's Church to give pupils at Thurleston High School something constructive to do during their lunch break.

It has already won accolade within the community, and now education secretary Ruth Kelly has praised the club for empowering residents.

She said: “We must draw on the energy and enthusiasm of this example and spread its message.”

Rev Andrew Dotchin, vicar at the church, said: “For a long time kids had been hanging around at lunchtime, usually outside the Co-op or outside the church hall, and it was decided that we should try to do something to give them somewhere purposeful to go.

“We've got Playstations, craft activities, that sort of thing and it's been a great success.

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“We regularly have around 40 children turning up every lunchtime.”

Judith Bourne, chairman of the Whitton Residents' Association, said: “We get a really good mix of children coming along and it's been a real community thing.

“People used to feel quite intimidated when there were big groups of young people hanging around outside the shops but now, because we've got all kinds of different people volunteering here, there is much more understanding.

“People have realised that not all teenagers are yobbos and it's brought the whole community much closer together.”

The club takes place two lunchtimes a week at the church's hall in Whitton Church Lane.

It was set up with a grant from the government's Together We Can initiative which aims to break down barriers between the public and government institutions.

Aiden Backhouse, 13, of Whitton Church Lane, said: “I just enjoy sitting down and chilling out with my friends.

“Before this club started we just used to hang around getting on people's nerves.”

The club is due to be featured on a programme about the Together We Can initiative which will be shown on the Community Channel on Monday at 8am and 8pm.

Have you benefited from the club? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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