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Father and stepmother of Tavis Spencer-Aitkens open youth club in bid to rebuild sense of community

PUBLISHED: 20:55 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 20:55 27 June 2019

Helen Forbes and Neville Aitkens, Tavis Spencer-Aitkens' father and stepmum, started the youth club in the hope of rebuilding a sense of community Picture: OLIVER SULLIVAN

Helen Forbes and Neville Aitkens, Tavis Spencer-Aitkens' father and stepmum, started the youth club in the hope of rebuilding a sense of community Picture: OLIVER SULLIVAN

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The father and stepmother of Tavis Spencer-Aitkens are setting up a new youth club in Ipswich in a bid to help young people stay away from gangs.

Children from across Ipswich are welcome to the club in an effort to end Children from across Ipswich are welcome to the club in an effort to end "postcode wars" Picture: OLIVER SULLIVAN

Neville Aitkens and his wife Helen Forbes are behind the new youth club, based at Nansen Road Baptist Church in the Nacton Road area of Ipswich.

The pair aim to rebuild the sense of community in the Nacton area which they feel has been lost in recent times in the hope some good will come out of the teenager's death. He was killed in a knife attack outside his home in June 2018.

Mrs Forbes said: "Back in my day we never had a problem with going to the other side of town, but now with gangs and postcode wars you have to be careful.

It is hoped the youth club will help steer children away from joining gangs Picture: OLIVER SULLIVANIt is hoped the youth club will help steer children away from joining gangs Picture: OLIVER SULLIVAN

"That's why we are trying to bring community back again. I know that children can play Xbox games at home but you can't make friends there and that's what we want to do."

The club, currently running two-hour weekly sessions, is open to families across Ipswich in the hope it can bring communities together and put an end to the so-called "postcode wars".

Mrs Forbes added: "I want to say to any parents, if you are struggling with your children, bring them along and we can try to help."

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Among guests was local heavyweight boxer Fabio Wardley, who hopes the club will bring back the sense of community he remembered as a child.

Mr Aitkens said: "Through all the emotions, what better way could there be to give something back, make Tavis proud and keep children safe.

"We had youth clubs growing up and everybody knew each other, from all across town and we never had any of these gang problems."

Local parents also praised the scheme, with mum-of-two Eve Darzniece saying parents had long feared the dangers of not having more facilities for young people in the area.

Left to right: John Southgate, Helen Forbes, Rev. Peterson Anand, Neville Aitkens and Amanda Southgate Picture: OLIVER SULLIVANLeft to right: John Southgate, Helen Forbes, Rev. Peterson Anand, Neville Aitkens and Amanda Southgate Picture: OLIVER SULLIVAN

Reverend Peterson Anand, of Nansen Road Baptist Church, added: "I am so proud of everyone in this community.

"All of the volunteers have done a fantastic job and we will always be here for the local youth."

Roxanne Chudleigh, who leads a campaign against carrying knives, added: "I am amazed by what Helen and Neville have done. All of this is down to them.

"I think it is really important to have a space when we can help children who are going on the wrong track.

Tavis Spencer-Aitkens was murdered in an Ipswich dispute in 2018   Pictire: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYTavis Spencer-Aitkens was murdered in an Ipswich dispute in 2018 Pictire: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

"I am so proud of them and what they have achieved. We are all working together so if anyone wants any help, then we will do it."

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