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Former students looking for a safe space find refuge in Harold Hill after school club

PUBLISHED: 15:00 27 December 2019

Pyrgo Priory Playcentre, based at Drapers Pyrgo Primary welcomes children of all ages to the after school club. Picture: Ken Mears.

Pyrgo Priory Playcentre, based at Drapers Pyrgo Primary welcomes children of all ages to the after school club. Picture: Ken Mears.

Ken Mears

A Harold Hill after school club has opened its doors to ex-pupils after many secondary school students kept coming back because they felt unsafe on the streets or home alone.

"We continually strive to support and mentor our children who live in one of our most deprived areas of Havering and above all we invest in children's personal, social and emotional development to ensure that their well- being is high," said Kellie Rust, director of Essex After School Clubs.

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"The transition for these children into secondary school has not been easy for them and many of the children do not want to go home to a quiet if not empty home, and don't feel safe hanging about on the streets, so they have been returning to us to offer to volunteer."

The after school club manager at Drapers' Pyrgo school, Nicole May, welcomes all children to the club, whether unannounced or not, as often the alternative may mean them walking the streets, being in parks and potentially being caught up in unwanted behaviour.

As well as primary school children, the club allows secondary school students to come in and help out with activities and stay for dinner, all free of charge.

Kellie explained: "Children know that they can use us as a safe base within the community. Recently, a young secondary school girl made her way back to our club because she was locked out and had no phone and so returned to the after school club for a safe place until the manager contacted her parents."

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