Burnley Boys and Girls Club (BBGC) is Lancashire’s oldest youth organisation offering safe, fun, and friendly environments where children and young people can learn, develop, and grow together.
BBGC will be 125 years old this year. But their much-loved youth centre space, in one of the most deprived parts of the country, is over 30 years old, so it is not celebration ready! It needs a major make-over, and an extension to modernise the space, make it accessible and help them support more young people.
BBGC has an inclusive approach and believes in putting young people at the heart of their work.
Chief Officer at BBGC, Graham Vernon says:
“We have two rules at Burnley Boys and Girls Club: Nobody is judged, and everyone must leave with a smile on their face.” It’s an inclusive space where “you” can be “you.” Talking about the young people, Graham says, “They just need some TLC, to feel included and valued.”
Graham joined BBGC six years ago, when the building was filthy and falling apart. Slowly he’s turned around its fortunes and it now has 900 members aged between 5 and 25 years. Many of the children and young people they support have very chaotic lives at home and at school, and mental health is a major issue. BBGC offers them some stability and a chance to have fun and make friends in a non-judgemental safe space. They have received a little money to improve the building incrementally, but nearly enough to transform the space or make a lasting difference.
Now a Youth Investment Fund grant of nearly £974K will transform BBGC for generations to come. The grant will pay for a new roof for their dilapidated sports hall, new outdoor facilities, as well the construction of a new two-storey extension that will house a gymnasium, a ‘chill-out room’ and three counselling rooms. It will also fund an outdoor MUGA space (A Multi Use Games Area), a 3G football and games pitch, and a state-of- the-art skateboard park – the first one in Burnley! And the space will be accessible and sustainable, ensuring future generations of young people can enjoy the space for many years to come. Having a safe space for counselling was a must have for BBGC and means there will be a safe space to support young people’s wellbeing and mental health.
The Youth Investment Fund will transform BBGC’s fortunes and vitally means that we can reach another 300 young people who desperately need a safe and welcoming space that they can call their own, a space where they can have fun, make friends, and learn new skills free from judgement. And our new project will be great for the whole community, enabling other clubs, schools, and community groups to use our amazing new facilities and sports ground. It’s been a dream in the making, and now our vision will be a reality.
Chief Officer for Burnley Boys and Girls Club
The funded project was young people led and they had very clear ideas about what they wanted, especially having a chill out space, a new skate park and the 3G football pitch. They also wanted to explore new activities like dance and drama. And young people will gain lots of new skills during the build, helping to lay bricks and learning all about building a new project.