Jack Petchey Foundation
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Youth club receives three prestigious awards and still faces the threat of closure


Paddington Arts in Westbourne recently celebrated receiving the London Youth Gold Award, Arts Award certificate and Jack Petchey Young Achievers Award but could still be closed due to funding cuts.

Chenae Mcalpine (9) and Nia Akinjiola (8) received the London Youth Gold Award on behalf of Paddington Arts at their Annual General Meeting. The London Youth Quality Mark is accredited by City & Guilds and is part of the national Ambition Quality framework for youth organisations. Part of the assessment is carried out by young people. The Gold level is a great honour that has only been awarded to 16 of 400 youth clubs in the London Youth Network. In addition to receiving access to London Youth’s programmes and discounts at outdoor centres, the Gold award entitles the club to £7000. This investment, by the City of London Corporation’s charity, the City Bridge Trust, will enable clubs to transform the lives of thousands of young Londoners.

The Annual General Meeting also celebrated some of the 6-10s Dance Group receiving their Arts Award. This nationally recognised qualification is managed by Trinity College London in association with Arts Council England. Jayden Moore (11), Jackson Morgan (8), Michelle St Louis (7) and Lacey Johnson (10) receiving an Arts Award marks their commitment but also encourages a link between young people and art professionals.

The final award went to Kayla Akinjiola (13), who won the Jack Petchey Young Achievers Award. Paddington Arts’ Jack Petchey co-ordinator, Eldora Edward, says “Kayla has attended Paddington Arts for 3 years along with 2 other siblings. On arrival, Kayla was very resistant on taking part in any activities…But with the help of the Paddington Arts staff and young people, Kayla was able to overcome her fears and now is one of three prefects within the 11-15's Dance group.” Kayla’s award comes with a prize of £200 to be spent on continuing Paddington Arts’ fantastic work.

Paddington Arts has a long history of reaching out to young people. In fact, Colin Vidal won a Jack Petchey Leader Award earlier this year. “63 Paddington Arts members were asked to nominate someone for the Leader Award…Colin got 80% of the nominations,” says Eldora. Colin joined in 1987 at the age of 7 and took part in every dance, drama and steelpan session within his age group. He then stayed on beyond the leaving age of 26 to become Head Volunteer, offering his services four evenings a week for the past 8 years without taking one evening off. “I didn't even realise that it has been that long,” Colin said in response to winning. “The children are my motivation - their creativity, energy and growth within the arts is truly rewarding.”

Despite all of these awards and rich history of success, funding cuts could mean closure for Paddington Arts. Steve Shaw, Director at Paddington Arts says "from 2000-2010 we were receiving £150,000 a year in funding. That has gone down to £0. The good news is that we own our building. If we didn't own the building it would be very hard to see how we would be here in 12 months. Nobody can close us down and we will find a way to keep open." The club is indeed doing everything it can to ensure it continues to support young people. In addition to raising money from ticket sales and applying for grants, Paddington Arts is asking people to 'Become a Friend' or donate money in the buckets they'll be walking around with during their Christmas show.

“It’s a shame that youth organisations aren’t recognised more for the incredible work they do. They are an integral part of our communities and should be recognised as such,” says a Jack Petchey Foundation spokesperson.

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