A COMMUNITY association based in the Croxteth area of Liverpool has been surprised with a £331,063 grant from the Big Lottery Fund. Croxteth Gems will use National Lottery funding to run youth clubs for local children and young people aged 8-12 and 13-19, including sports, arts and crafts, computer classes and homework sessions. The older group will also be offered workshops to help steer them away from criminal activity, and improve understanding of healthy relationships, drugs and alcohol and sexual health. The group will host talks from guest speakers on a wide range of topics, including mental wellbeing and behavioural issues, and invite local employers to talk about their work and any vacancies they might have for young people. The news was delivered on a visit to Croxteth Gems on Thursday afternoon by the Big Lottery Fund Chief Executive Dawn Austwick and England Chair Nat Sloane, where they met the groups’ Manager Michelle Bowden, and Youth and Play Coordinator Jean Hannah. They also saw the youth club in action and met some of the young people benefitting from this important local service. Big Lottery Fund Chief Executive Dawn Austwick said: “We’re proud to support fantastic local groups like Croxteth Gems. Thanks to the money raised by National Lottery players, the project is supporting young people to make new friends and try new activities. It’s been great to surprise the group with news of their £331,000 grant and see first-hand how much it means to the local community in this area of Liverpool.” Croxteth Gems Youth and Play Coordinator Jean Hannah said: “It’s overwhelming. National Lottery funding has already enabled us to support so many people in the local area. This new grant means we’re able to provide services for the next three years and keep Croxteth Gems at the heart of our community.” Liverpool City Councillor for the Croxteth Ward Joann Kushner welcomed the funding: “I am absolutely delighted that Croxteth Gems have been awarded this money.” Croxteth Gems was founded in 1969 and provides activities including after-school clubs, youth clubs and soft play, as well as spaces for local organisations and health services to use. The group works with a variety of different partners and at the heart of their project activities is the involvement of beneficiaries in decision making. The project takes a wider and more collaborative approach to the development of Croxteth, working with children, adults and families who live in the area.