Special PC revives youth club

A POLICE officer is reviving a youth club that he has fond memories of as a 10-year old.

Special constable Leon Usher is breathing new life into the Cool Project, which ran in Hartlepool for several years but faded away due to funding issues.

Leon, who is now 21 says he had a great time at the Stranton Primary School-based club a decade ago, and wants today’s children to have the same experiences.

He also hopes it will help stop any nuisance behaviour by youngsters by giving them somewhere to enjoy various activities.

Leon, who lives in the Belle Vue area of Hartlepool, said: “It was great. If children had nowhere to go and play it gave them an opportunity.

“When I left it was still going strong, but I think it lost some funding and eventually it had to shut down.

“It would be great to have it back and hopefully it can become a success again.”

Leon is now looking for volunteers over 16 years old to help run the after-school project, which is a joint initiative between Cleveland Police, Belle Vue Sports Centre, Housing Hartlepool, Hartlepool Borough Council and the Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency.

Leon added: “This isn’t really about anti-social behaviour as such, it’s about giving children somewhere to go and to enjoy activities like sport.

“To do that we need volunteers to run it with us so we can open it up to more children.

“They will get all the support they need, such as first aid and safeguarding children courses.”

Leon is set to become a PC with Durham Constabulary in February after volunteering with the Cleveland force since 2010.

He still plans to be involved with the project, which runs from 5pm-7pm on Wednesdays at Stranton Primary School, when he moves.

“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer,” said Leon, who went to Stranton and Brierton Community School.

“I have enjoyed my time with Cleveland and will be keeping a hand in this project”.

Inspector Paul Haytack, of Hartlepool’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, has been impressed by Leon’s dedication.

He said: “Leon has put so much time and effort into this and he has done a cracking job.

“If it’s successful and takes off, we can recreate it across the town”.

The closing date for applications is on Friday, January 25, and interviews are set to take place in February.

For more information on the Cool Project and how to volunteer, visit www.coolproject.org.uk or http://www.cleveland.police.uk/careers