A Stockton village youth club is celebrating a successful first year – and is encouraging even more local young people to come along.
Stillington Youth Club was set up in September last year after a group of local residents organised a meeting to look at how young people could be given more opportunities within the village to help bring more community cohesion and reduce the likelihood of disruptive behaviour.
Held between 7pm and 9pm every Thursday evening at Stillington Village Hall, the volunteer-run Club offers a wide range of activities for local young people to try, including arts & crafts, baking and numerous different sports, and also organised a trip to Flamingoland over the summer.
Having started from scratch, it now has more than 50 registered members aged between 11 and 16 years old, with a number of the older members now starting to take responsibility for organising activities for their younger peers.
Members have also been carrying out their own fundraising activities for local good causes.
As part of the Club’s development, it received a £2,390 grant from North East employer The Banks Group via the community fund linked to its nearby Lambs Hill wind farm.
The grant has been used to cover the annual cost of hiring the village hall, as well as to allow the Club to buy items including a pool table, table tennis table, baking equipment, karaoke equipment and various pieces of sporting equipment.
Rachel Swales, volunteer organiser at Stillington Youth Club, says: “There was a youth club in the village several years ago, but that disbanded and left our young people with very little to do in what is quite an isolated rural community.
“Our young people tend to go to one of three secondary schools and we found that their different destinations were often leading to friendships falling by the wayside due to a lack of opportunities for people to meet up.
“It took us a year from our first community meeting to formally launching the club, but the enthusiasm of our young people from the very beginning convinced us that we were on the right track and the success we’ve enjoyed over the last 12 months in getting so many people involved has proved that to be true.
“As well as keeping them busy, we feel the Club helps young people to develop their communication and social skills with both their peers and older people in the village, and it’s been especially pleasing to see some of our older members start to take responsibility for organising activities for the younger ones.
“We’re only a small community and there are only so many times you can ask the same people for financial help. Without the Banks grant, we’d probably still be struggling to bring in the sort of equipment that’s been central to making the Club a success, and we’d love to see even more members joining during our next 12 months.”
The Lambs Hill community benefits fund provides around £10,000 of funding every year to local projects to ensure that tangible long-term local benefits result from the wind farm’s operations.
Eligibility for grants from the Lambs Hill wind farm community benefits fund is normally restricted to community projects and activities within Stillington & Whitton, Bishopton, Foxton, Great Stainton, Little Stainton, Grindon, and Bishopton Crossings, but projects outside these areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within them.
A funding committee comprised of village residents and supported by a dedicated fund manager from the Banks Community Fund team meets every few months to determine applications for grants submitted by local community groups and agrees how the fund can best be allocated to meet local spending priorities.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Supporting the excellent work of the Stillington Youth Club and giving young people living in the area a wider range of leisure options fits perfectly with the purpose of our Lambs Hill wind farm benefits fund.”
Anyone interested in applying for funding from the Lambs Hill wind farm community benefits fund should contact James Eaglesham at County Durham Community Foundation, who is the fund manager for the Banks Community Fund, on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.