Amazing local women make it all happen

10 October 2018 | North West England

Croxteth Gems

Success of the Liverpool youth centre where a young Wayne Rooney played is a real team effort.

Croxteth Gems youth centre is at the heart of its community in Liverpool.
And it is thriving thanks to a close-knit team of women who do everything they can to ensure there are always activities and opportunities for local children.

Jean Hannah, Youth and Play Co-ordinator at the centre, said: “I am grateful for the help of my team of amazing local women who make it all happen.”

Croxteth Gems sits in the middle of one of the most deprived wards in the country, providing care for up to 60 children a day from around the local community.

The centre, which has helped generations of children, including footballer Wayne Rooney, is now celebrating the opening of a new state-of-the-art sensory room and play area.
The new sensory room will be used primarily for some of the children who have special needs. New features include a mirror wall, light-up bubble tubes, a ball pool with padded walls, LED colour changing lights in the floor, diffusers that emit calming aromas and a projector showing soothing scenes of birds tweeting, waterfalls and fish swimming.

The room and play area were paid for by a charity grant from the Clothworkers Foundation. Jean said: “It’s great we have these new facilities. The total cost came to nearly £20,000 and we are really grateful for the funding.

“We are situated right in the middle of the estate and there is a lot of deprivation and poverty here. I like to think we provide a sense of belonging and a home from home for the kids around here.”

Jean and her fellow nine staff provide breakfast every day for the children of two local primary schools.During the school holidays they also host a playscheme which includes a free breakfast and lunch for all children. They estimate they serve up to 50,000 meals a year to hungry children. More recently they also provided dozens of children with new school uniforms.

During term time the centre opens Monday to Friday from 3pm until 6pm for eight to 12-year-olds, and from 6pm until 9pm for 13 to 19-year-olds. And at the weekend the centre can be used for parties, and there is even a bouncy castle.

Jean, 58, who has been working in child and youth development for 40 years, added: “The children get to take part in activities both indoor and outdoor which can be anything like sports, computers, arts and crafts or dance.

“Wayne Rooney and his brothers used to come here and loved it.” Earlier this year the centre, which opened in 1969, won the Liverpool Youth Award for strengthening families and communities, showing how when people help people, it’s a good thing for all of us.

In 2010 it was voted number one community organisation in the country by Community Matters UK.

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