AN ACADEMY which helps young and unemployed people is celebrating after being awarded more half a million pounds in lottery funding.
The SESKU Community Learning and Skills Academy, based on Northfield Lane, South Kirkby, successfully bid for £494,259 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities Award. The academy’s recently formed dance group was also handed £9,833 from the lottery’s Awards for All scheme.
The money will help provide youth services and sporting activities in South Elmsall, South Kirkby and Upton over the next five years. It will pay for new equipment, staffing costs, insurance and affiliation to sporting bodies.
The academy - along with South Kirkby and Moorthorpe Town Council - will also be running a new community centre, located at the former Burntwood J&I School, which will open in August.
The centre will offer training for young people and the unemployed, a games room, a conference and meeting room for local community groups and a dance hall. It will also house the academy’s administration offices.
The dance group will use its grant to pay for costs associated with moving to the new centre and to provide street dance sessions for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Coun Adam Redfern, who runs the academy, said: “It is like a fairytale ending for us. We have been awarded such a monumental sum of money and we hope that it will help us become sustainable.
“We are going to ask schools to pay for the services we have offered for free during the last three years so that we don’t have to rely on funding all the time. We want to be here in 10 years time, 20 years, even longer than that.
“We want to provide a permanent youth service that has been missing in this area for so long. We have come across so many ‘could have beens’ and ‘should have beens’ when applying for funding that sometimes we wondered if we were going to be successful at all.
“This is a fantastic achievement and I would like to thank everyone who has supported us along the way, especially the town council.”
Paul Jones, Big Lottery Fund head of region for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “We are pleased to be able to support these excellent projects to continue and build upon their crucial work. Whether it is opening up new horizons for the long-term unemployed, inspiring communities to work together to improve their environment or providing vulnerable young people with the support they need to reach their full potential, the positive impact of BIG’s Reaching Communities funding support will be felt across the region.”