A Belper youth group is celebrating 15 years of providing a much-needed service to youngsters in the town.
Since its launch in 2000, The Drop Inn has been a hub of activity for thousands of teenagers.
The centre, located on Derwent Street, was founded by Andrea Fox and provides a crucial role in preventing anti-social behaviour in the area as well as giving young people the skills and confidence to progress.
In June the group is set to hold a celebration open to the public that will celebrate its history and positive impact on the town.
“I’d say over the 15 years, that we’ve helped over 5,000 kids and quite a few still pop up now and then,” Andrea told the Belper News.
“They support us and we call them our homegrown volunteers.
“At the moment we’ve got about six to ten regular volunteers and around 50 or 60 kids that regularly turn up.
“We’ve got an art project coming up that will see members design a memorial to Mitchell Rodgers.
“We’ve got a core group of youngsters and they are all keen to be involved in our projects.
“Over the years we’ve run many projects and integrated with the local community.
“We did one called Linking Live, which was inter-generational and involved young people starting to build bridges with the older community in the town.
“It was a great project.
“We’re quite a unique group because anything that the young people are interested in, we will try and incorporate.”
However, founder Andrea said The Drop Inn had been dealt its fair share of blows. The group has seen its premises flooded, electrical faults strike and it has nearly gone bankrupt, in what has been a colourful 15 years.
Andrea says that the dedication of the members and volunteers ensures that the group continues to “rise like a phoenix”.
She added: “When we were in our previous location, we were flooded and the whole community rallied round and we were open the next day! On two occasions we’ve nearly gone bankrupt but once again the local community rallied round and helped us.
“It costs £17,000 a year to run and we wouldn’t be here without the dedication of the whole community.”
PC Richard Martin, from the Belper Town Safer Neighbourhood Team, said The Drop Inn was an integral part of the community, providing help and support for the town’s youth. “Andrea Fox in particular can be described as a rock and the main reason The Drop Inn works,” he added. “The work they do is relentless and always for the good of the community and the town’s youth. Belper is a far better place for the help and support The Drop Inn gives.”
n Keep checking Belper News for more on the celebratory open day in June.