Founders of Ilford club aimed at getting children off the street are in line for Young Citizen Award

Two volunteers who have been friends since the age of two and who have spearheaded a programme to give children on Redbridge estates their own weekend club are the latest Young Citizen Award nominees.

Luke Derbyshire, 22, and Elizabeth Gardner, 25, have spent the last two years establishing and developing the Metro Kids programme and are in the running for the Exchange Ilford-sponsored Recorder/Redbridge Rotary Club award.

The Saturday club takes children aged six to 10 from across the borough, including estates in Ley Street, Loxford and Newbury Park, and provides them with fun activities at the City Gates Christian Centre in High Road, Ilford.

Elizabeth, of Hatley Avenue, Barkingside, said: “It’s getting them involved and stopping them from getting into trouble areas, particularly in the Loxford area.

“We walked these streets and the kids were running around the roads. The idea was to give them a bit of focus.” Initially the club helped 10 children a week but that has now grown to between 40 and 50.

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A bus takes them to the church where they enjoy a two-and-a-half hour programme of sports, games, teaching, arts and crafts, dance and drama.

Elizabeth, who works full-time for Redbridge Council and who also runs a Sunday School club at the church, said: “We’ve taken them on trips to Thorpe Park and been bowling.

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“It gives them an opportunity to get to know other kids.”

She said the inspiration for the club came from Luke.

The pair went on a church-sponsored mission to the Philippines and saw a similar programme.

Metro Kids has now won funding from the Met Police who Sarah believes are keen to nurture children and youth clubs following last summer’s London riots.

It means the club will move to Loxford Youth Centre in Loxford Lane, Ilford from September.

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