A KEY community centre which was destroyed by arsonists will play host to the launch of Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Summer arson campaign this Friday (11 July).
Golden Boy Green Community Centre in South Bank – named after Middlesbrough FC legend Wilf Mannion – was set alight in February 2009 leaving the local community devastated.
The £1m Redcar & Cleveland Council building was eventually rebuilt and opened again in 2011.
The arson campaign launch coincides with the launch of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s Early Help Zone in South Bank – a groundbreaking pilot initiative which involves all of the key organisations working in partnership to promote the interests of children living in South Bank.
Youngsters from three local schools – South Bank Primary School, St Margaret’s Primary School and St Peter’s Primary School – will come together with firefighters, community leaders and other key agencies for the launch event which is held from 11am to 5pm.
A range of activities will be held throughout the day including a display of the wonderful work that is at taking place the heart of the community, lunch provided by the catholic, Anglican and Baptist churches, as well as a celebration of talent, with performances from local school and community groups and a disco to end of the of celebration as the children leave school. Organisations will also sign a pledge to show their commitment to taking this fantastic initiative forward.
Visitors to the event will be able to view fire appliances, including a hydraulic platform and test their agility on the Brigade’s climbing wall. Firefighters will also be giving presentations and giving out advice.
Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection with Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “People living and working in the vicinity of Golden Boy Green Community Centre know as well as anyone how arson can devastate a local community and this is why we have chosen the location for our campaign launch.
“Despite the shocking and thoughtless attack on the community centre, local people have shown great strength and resilience to fight back and demonstrate that they will not be beaten by arson. Community events like this are really important to us as they provide the opportunity to work closely with the local community, talk to people about the devastating affect that arson has and encourage local people to report anyone who they suspect of arson.”
Councillor Joan Guy, cabinet member for children’s services and education, said: “The Early Help Zone is a fantastic initiative that recognises the great work that already exists in the South Bank community, and brings together partner organisations, particularly schools, to promote the interests of children in the area.
“The project has a cradle to the grave approach to building social capital and cohesion and will look to address factors that may prevent children from succeeding in education and life, as well as strengthen families’ ability to support their children.
“Partners will work with the community using creative and positive approaches to deliver and support early intervention and it is envisaged that as the project develops the community will step up and become the main drivers in taking the project forward.
“This, hands on approach will harness the capacity, skills, and knowledge connections as well as celebrate the richness and diversity of the South Bank community, and create a culture where children are supported, not only by their families, but by the community, to do well in life.”
Deliberate fires still account for around seven out of ten fires across Cleveland and the Brigade said that there will be no let-up in their efforts to stop arson once and for all.
Mr Lancaster added: “Our ongoing campaign involves targeting hot-spot areas and we’ll be working closely with the Police and other organisations over the Summer. Arson ruins lives, communities and local businesses and our message is quite simple: Enough is Enough. We are watching you and anyone who starts a deliberate fire is likely to be caught.”
Earlier this year Cleveland Fire Brigade and Cleveland Police unveiled a new protocol which involves working together using the latest technology in undertaking joint investigations to determine the causes of fires and who started them.
The Brigade has also arranged a programme of diversionary activities for young people across the Cleveland area during the Summer school holiday period. Full details can be obtained by visiting www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/news-and-events/events/ and you can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
If anyone wishes to report any suspected arsonists confidentially they should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Alternatively, call the Police non emergency number 101.