Uckfield Youth Club re-opened last night thanks to the efforts of police and community groups working together to combat anti-social behaviour in town.
All those involved gathered for an official launch, at the youth centre in Downsview Crescent, and it was Tesco Community Champion Robert Muggeridge who thanked everybody for their efforts.
He said the idea came about through regular meetings held between him, the police and youth workers but without the help of Uckfield Chamber of Commerce it couldn’t have happened because they donated the money to cover staffing costs for a year.
The club is now open on Thursday evenings between 6 and 8pm for children aged from 11 to 12 (Year 7s). It is hoped the age range can be expanded in the future.
The youth workers are employed and managed by East Sussex County Council Youth Service and volunteers, sought and interviewed by Uckfield Volunteer Centre and the youth service, are involved too.
Uckfield Town Council administered project meetings and supported the project with communication.
Chief Inspector Anita Turner, of Sussex Police, who is responsible for Eastbourne, Lewes, and Wealden areas told Uckfield News she hoped projects like the youth club would make a difference in the battle against anti-social behaviour.
She said: “Getting something where young people can be positive about themselves makes such a difference. It is good to see it opening again.”
She added that everything wasn’t yet as it should be in town, but a lot of measures had been put in place and they were working.
“We have certainly worked with a lot of young people and put some measures in place helping them manage their behaviour and we are hopefully seeing the results of that, but we are continuing to work on what we need to work on.”
She praised PCSO Sue Choppin who had been heavily involved in the project to open the youth club, and the inspector for the area Jon Gross. “His commitment and compassion towards neighbourhood policing has really helped.”
PCSO Choppin said she was pleased to see the youth club open again. Now it was up and running she would be able to apply to the Police Property Act Fund to stock up the tuck shop and buy equipment.
But, she said, the club had to be self-funding and at the moment it was running on good will so there was still a lot to be achieved.
There was a surprise for PCSO Choppin during the evening because Ch Insp Turner took the opportunity to present her with a Good Egg Award.
The PCSO’s colleagues had nominated her for the award because she was “an all-round good egg” who got on with her work and was really good to her colleagues. Her prize was an Easter egg.
PCSO Choppin said she hadn’t had an Easter egg this year so that was a welcome surprise.