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Leatherhead youth centre opens £25,000 cafe extension

By Leatherhead Advertiser  |  Posted: January 28, 2013

Andy Gill, bottom left, is joined by youngsters at the extended BFree youth centre in Leatherhead

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A YOUTH centre in Leatherhead has had its cafe extension officially opened after receiving a £25,000 council grant.

BFree, which offers free facilities and mentoring to young people after school, has opened its All Saints' Cafe after being awarded the sum by Surrey County Council leader David Hodge last May.

More than 100 young people were on hand to open the new extension, which project leaders said would help the centre reach a "wider audience of children".

BFree community manager Andy Gill, who has been with the centre since it opened in 2005, said: "We are really pleased and excited about the opportunities it presents.

"The previous cafe has been expanded to almost twice the size because it just was not big enough for what we want to do here.

"We have about 100 different kids coming through the door every week and sometimes they would turn up and see it overcrowded and leave.

"Thankfully that will not happen anymore."

As well as offering free access to computers, a home cinema and video games, the project – based at All Saints' Church in Kingston Road – also supplies one-to-one support to young people from "difficult backgrounds".

Mr Gill added: "Whether they are having a tough time at home or at school or wherever, we have qualified youth workers and a team of vetted volunteers who are here to give support.

"This money is going to help us to keep on offering that and, at the same time, help us to reach a wider audience of children who desperately need our help."

The cafe, which was opened on January 16, is one of 29 schemes to have won cash from the Community Improvements Fund to help residents improve their local areas.

Mr Hodge, who was responsible for choosing the winning schemes, said: "It's fantastic to see how the money has been invested in continuing the great work the cafe does in the local community.

"The youngsters take responsibility for running the cafe, which gives them a great place to go after school for a cup of hot chocolate, cappuccino or tea, internet surfing or some extra support.

"With older people dropping in for computer classes the centre really is at the heart of the community and is a great example of the council and its residents joining together to make Surrey an even better place to live."

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