‘Piggie lot’ teens celebrate first birthday of myplace centre, Harold Hill

Some of the Piggie Lot outside myplace

Some of the Piggie Lot outside myplace - Credit: Archant

It’s a year since Harold Hill’s community centre myplace opened its doors – and there’s plenty to celebrate for one litter of local teens.

Phoebe, 15, in myplace

Phoebe, 15, in myplace - Credit: Archant

The self-styled “Piggie Lot” have been running sports sessions, writing funding applications, getting CV advice and even speaking at the town hall since myplace opened in June 2012.

Luke, 15, in myplace

Luke, 15, in myplace - Credit: Archant

Part of the group’s success, they say, has been changing they way people see them.

Lauren, 15, in myplace

Lauren, 15, in myplace - Credit: Archant

The group is named after the “Piggie Park” space behind Dagnam Park Drive where they sometimes socialise, to the occasional chagrin of local residents.

“We had a few problems before, with people complaining about how many of us there were,” said 15-year-old Redden Court student Lauren.

“Now I think we get less blame because of what people think we are. People know what we are doing [in the community] so they don’t see us as trouble.

“One lady the other day came out because a police officer was trying to move us on. She said: ‘Don’t move them on – I love watching them play’.”

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An early victory came when the Piggie Lot won £1,500 of funding for a football training event during the school holidays.

They penned heartfelt letters to Havering Council in a bid to bring home the bacon, explaining how they would use it to mentor younger children while keeping fit.

It’s an integral part of what the Piggie Lot do. Working with younger children from her local area helped Phoebe, of Lindfield Road, realise she wanted to become a sports instructor.

“Volunteering at myplace helped me decide I like working with the kids,” she said.

Luke, 15, added myplace had “changed my life quite a bit”.

“Before, I used to just stay indoors and play Xbox and watch TV,” he said. “Now I get out a lot more and see my mates. I come here three or four times a week.”

Havering’s education boss Cllr Paul Rochford said he would build a myplace in every part of the borough but for the lack of funding.

“myplace has made a positive impact on the lives of so many young people in the area over the last year,” he said. “The skills they can learn and develop there are already proving invaluable for them as they progress through life, socially, academically and professionally.”