East Marsh's Shalom Youth Project still going strong after 40 years
A PROJECT which helps young people on Grimsby's East Marsh to reach their full potential is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Shalom Youth Project, based at St John and St Stephen's Church, in Rutland Street, has welcomed 3,645 members since it was founded by the Reverend Canon John Ellis MBE in 1972.
The charity aims to help youngsters between the ages of four and 19 develop their relationships, confidence and life skills by occupying their spare time.
It particularly targets those who are at risk, such as young people who have been in trouble with police, struggled at school or had family problems.
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The Reverend Kay Jones, who has been involved in Shalom for 23 years, said: "We currently have about 200 young people who use the project every week.
"There are about 30 youth workers here at different times during the week to talk to the members about anything that's bothering them, support them and help improve their self-esteem.
"Because most of the young people in this community have toxic relationships at home, the main thing for us is to help them build positive relationships and to allow them to feel good about their lives and their futures."
Shalom is open six days a week, with activities for different age groups held each night after school to encourage youngsters to interact with their peers.
During the daytime, volunteers operate both the Space project, which helps young people who struggle with mainstream education, and the 16-Plus project, which provides support for those not in training and education.
Young people can also work towards their Mayor's Award, which requires them to complete 30 hours of courses on subjects such as drug awareness.
Twelve-year-old Charlie Westerman has just completed her award. She said: "I started coming to Shalom when I was a baby because my mum used to be a member and all of my brothers and sisters have come here.
"I like to come and pray and it's a good way to learn to communicate with others. Doing my Mayor's Award taught me a lot of new things."
Bradley Lytollis, 15, says the project has helped him to stay out of trouble.
He added: "If I didn't come here I'd just be hanging around on the streets. I come to socialise with friends and I've started helping out with the younger ones now, too."
Grimsby Town under-14s player Callum De-Gruchy, 13, said: "I like coming here because it's a laugh and you get to see you friends.
"If I didn't come I'd just be sitting at home or playing football somewhere. Instead I get to come and learn things that I'd never get the chance to learn otherwise."
Harry Banks, 13, attends Shalom on two evenings every week. He added: "I really look forward to coming because I get to see all of my friends out of school."