A youth club in Rock Ferry threatened with closure after 50 years received a £13,500 boost from Merseyside Police’s Community Cash Back Fund.
The Viking Youth Club (known as the Vikes) was formed in the 1960s by a group of Birkenhead School old boys, but last September the club had to suspend its activities due to lack of funds.
Faced with closure, the club was awarded £13,500, which had been seized from criminals using the Proceeds of Crime Act, to help the club continue its work.
The money has funded two youth club sessions every Friday night, run by local community interest company MW Sports, for young people between the ages of 6-11 and 11-14 which include sports and dance sessions and aim to improve relationships, confidence and provide a safe space. They have already seen the number of young people attending increase dramatically and are now welcoming around 30-40 young people every week. Around 70 people attended a recent Halloween event.
The young people will have cultural awareness improved with trips to museums and libraries and will be introduced to different activities and sports.
Utopia Project, a Wirral based social inclusion initiative that works to address educational inequality and social disadvantage, run the youth club at the Vikes.
Danny Cooke, Programme Manager of Utopia Project, said: “The funding will be invaluable for our youth club.
“The club will provide joint educational sessions with the Local Policing team to provide further information on cyber safety, bullying, the effects of anti-social behaviour in the local community and rail safety on a monthly basis.
“We plan to provide monthly sessions for the Local Policing officers to attend and forge links with the young people within the community and provide support and education.”
The funding forms part of £225,000 of seized criminal cash given to community groups across Merseyside by the police.
Community Sergeant Katie Wilkinson said: “It would have been such a shame for The Vikes to cease its activities after providing such a valued resource for generations of youngsters in Wirral.
“We are very happy to be in a position to help them continue their good work and look forward to visiting the young people at The Vikes to educate them on a range of issues affecting young people in our borough.”
Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: “It is really satisfying to think that we have been able to seize the ill-gotten financial assets of criminals, who cause such damage to our communities, and reinvest it to provide vital resources to communities across Merseyside for people of all ages.
“Each and every one of the initiatives that have benefited from this money are thoroughly deserving and will put it to very good use.
“I am confident their positive impact will be felt for a long time to come and I look forward to hearing how they progress in the months and years to come.”