Pandemic won't defeat 120 year old Burnley youth club

With over 120 years of history, a war hero founder and the huge difference they make in the community, Burnley Boys and Girls Club is something to be celebrated.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 3:45 pm

Founded in 1899, originally titled the Burnley Lads’ Club by Henry Davison Riley, the club was a haven for boys who had fallen into the wrong crowd in the early 20th century. The club grew rapidly with over 600 members during the First World War, which sadly took the lives of the founder and many other members.

Fast forward to the challenges of today, and the club has been selected as a rapid asymptomatic lateral flow testing station for Covid-19, with all the BBGC Team trained as testers.

Centre manager Graham Vernon said: "One thing that hasn’t changed since the club began is that everyone is offered the same chance. The club is a sanctuary for young people who have nowhere else, and everyone is welcome. The club is a vital part of the community and needs the community help and support to grow and help more children.

Young, current ambassadors of the club

"During the pandemic things haven’t been easy and the club has been more of a lifeline than ever, with more people spending time at home and family relationships being pushed to the brink. Over Christmas the club appealed for toys to be donated so each of the children would receive a Christmas gift.

"At the beginning of December we had received over £4,000 worth of toys donated with local business donating their time and skills to the appeal."

The club's mantra is that they are at the heart of the young people and this is reflected in the care and attention they put into all their daily activities. The children are given a fun release from their day lives and a space where they can learn, develop and grow before going into the adulthood.

The children who go to the club often stay there for many years and credit it as helping them stay on the right track. This is testament to the difference they make to children’s lives within the community.

The club and the work they do has been so successful that Graham has now been asked to manage and run a youth engagement across the Ribble Valley.

One of the issues that arises in communities is that there is nowhere for young people to go, so they hang around on the street or in the park, often causing anxiety for the local community. Graham has a very empathetic way of handling these situations and knows they need someone they can talk to and someone they can trust.

Understanding and respecting young people is at the heart of the solution. This has led Chorley Borough Council to engage regarding their youth provision, which further illustrates the reach and impact of the Burnley Boys and Girls Club's work.

More than ever the club needs the support of Lancashire businesses, and the centre itself needs major refurbishment. So, if there are any businesses looking to integrate a social purpose into their organisation the BBGC would be delighted to hear from them. Please make contact at [email protected]