A youth project providing support to children in Saffron Walden is celebrating after receiving thousands of pounds to continue covering the cost of professional youth workers.

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The Saffron Walden Youth Outreach Project was the recipient of £3,000 courtesy of the Lloyds Bank Community Fund after coming out on top against other community organisations in a public vote.

The project runs two separate centres – the Goldie Youth Club for those aged 13-19 and the Croft Youth Club for 10-13 year olds. Both provide support to help reduce risk taking and increase awareness of some of the dangers children may leave themselves open to.

The youth workers stand “as strong role models” but the project must raise £1,000 each month to ensure they can continue to provide their service.

Treasurer and fund-raiser Vic Lelliott insists the financial boost will allow them some much needed breathing space for the next few months.

“We got a lot of the votes when you look at it and I was very pleased to hear the news that we had won,” said Mr Lelliott, who will also use the money to help put on activities to help further the children’s life skills.

“We need a certain amount to pay the rent, the insurance, youth worker wages and for activities for the children so we need about £1,000 per month to keep us going.

“Normally we have reserves but we never have more than six month’s worth so we constantly have to raise money to fund the youth clubs and the other things we do.

“It has become very difficult to get money from local authorities because they are cash strapped and also from charitable trusts because they tend to support projects more than ongoing expenses as we work with children on a weekly basis.

“We run sessions on topics such as sexual health, coping with finances, finding a job and learning to drive and have six trained counsellors giving their time to help people get through the difficult times.”

Now in its second year, the community gund offered grants to more than 1,332 local good causes in 333 communities throughout England and Wales.

Four good causes were nominated by staff in each community with more than 2.3million votes cast in branches, online and by text message at the end of 2013.

Mr Lelliott believes it is only a matter of time before Saffron Walden starts to benefit from their support of the project as the children who come through their doors are given the guidance they need.

“Some of the kids are excused from school or unemployed and they are a difficult group but the professional youth workers we have are trained to cope and help them,” he added.

“We help the town deal with a group of youngsters that can be difficult and who would otherwise be on the street and we can deal with more challenging children.

“Our community does not tend to get the support and because we are seen as well off people assume we have no deprivation but that is not always true.”

• Lloyds Bank has provided funding to 1,332 community groups in England & Wales through its Community Fund in 2013. To find out more about the community groups in the area, visit lloydsbank.com/communityfund

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