MORE than 50 children have been helped in the first year of a project designed to boost opportunities on a Mansfield estate.
Parents say the Bellamy Road After-School Club has given children more confidence and improved maths and English skills.
The Nottinghamshire YMCA-run project celebrated its first birthday this week after delivering 487 hours of after-school activities.
A Big Lottery award of £278,000 last year means it will keep going until at least 2015.
The club works in partnership with schools to run activities, crafts and games out of the YMCA Cafe on the estate’s shop precinct off Egmanton Road.
Said James Skinner, club co-ordinator: “We’ve been aiming to help kids be the best they can be.
“It’s somewhere fun to do homework and it’s got all the benefits of a club; it’s somewhere to make new friends.”
In the first 12 months co-ordinators have welcomed 52 children from 51 families as part of the YMCA’s aim of delivering ‘lasting change’ in the area.
Mum Sue Shorthose, who lives on the estate, brings daughter Megan (8) to the club after she finishes the school day at St Peter’s Primary on Bellamy Road.
Said Sue (45): “She’s been coming for about a year and has gained a lot of confidence to socialise.
“It helps with the maths and with spelling, which she used to struggle with, but since she’s been coming here I’ve seen a great improvement in her.
“At first she would come home from school, get changed out of her uniform and come back but now she wants to come in straight away.
“At first the things she used to like most were the computers but now she also loves the games and it’s just everything about the place.”
The grant of £278,000 paid for equipment, upgrades at the cafe and staff to run the club.
The charity got involved in an effort to ensure children from the area are not disadvantaged by its statistics.
Figures from Nottinghamshire County Council say 37.2 per cent of children in the Bellamy Road area are living in poverty, measured by family income.
Mansfield district councillor John Smart said the charity’s cafe and club had become a ‘focal point’ for the estate.
“It’s become very important to the plan to regenerate the area,” said the Ransom Wood member.
“It’s had a reputation for many years, I would say sometimes unfairly, and we see the partnership with the YMCA as important.”