Engineers make ‘grand’ gesture to Carlisle kids club

United Utilities has donated £1,000 to help fund hundreds of nutritious breakfasts and lunches for children using Carlisle Youth Zone’s Summer Holiday Club in Victoria Place.

The donation will allow youth workers to feed hungry young people for free for a week – no matter what their family’s financial circumstances.

Fiona Fergus, business support manager for CYZ, said more than 550 youngsters attended the five week holiday club during last year’s summer holidays to have fun and make new friendships in a safe environment. But for some families, finding the money to come along was a financial strain.

“In previous school holidays our youth workers have reported seeing young people eating the leftovers of others, attending with an empty lunch box as they desperately don’t want to be seen as the kid with no food and we also see many young people who have very little energy to participate in the activities going on around them.

“Last year we received funding to provide free spaces for families in need and for the cost of food for everyone. This year, we cannot afford to take on the cost of the free meals. The money from United Utilities will help us feed all our young people over summer for a week.”

United Utilities’ third party co-ordinator Paul Wheadon said project staff had been working in Victoria Place for several weeks as part of a £14m scheme to clean and refurbish more than 30km of water pipes in the city, when they learned about Carlisle Youth Zone’s work.

“It’s not cheap sending kids to a club during the summer holidays and Carlisle Youth Zone depends on sponsors to help make sure underprivileged children get the same chances as everyone else without stigma. It’s a great project and when Fiona told us how many youngsters really have their eyes opened when they come along we wanted to help out,” he said.

The work in Victoria Place, Warwick Road and Montgomery Way is the latest and most substantial part of United Utilities’ scheme to improve water quality in Carlisle. It involved temporarily making Victoria Place, outside Carlisle Youth Zone, one-way.

“We always like to leave a legacy for the community when we have been in an area. There’s no way of digging up two huge water pipes under a road this busy without causing some inconvenience, despite taking every opportunity we can to keep it to a minimum. So it’s really nice to give something back,” said Paul.

The project team also sponsored this year’s Eden Valley Hospice’s RUNMUMS Mothers Day 5K event in Bitts Park.