Lively new vision for boys’ club

James Brill and Dave Sheppard are behind plans for a drop-in centre and café run by the young people

A new use has been found for the Rye Boys’ Club in Mermaid Street. The trustees have agreed to host a new venture operated by a not-for-profit company by the name of Youth in Motion (Yim). This company provides services to the East Sussex County Council Youth Development Service, says director James Brill.

Yim runs a rhythmic dance group in Brighton and a youth arts and music programme in Hastings with two established youth bands that play regularly at local events. Plans for Rye envisage a drop-in centre and youth club for local youngsters, open three to four days per week with a café run by the young people themselves. The centre will provide a mix of social activities and employment skills training, with adult mentoring and supervision.

A key member of staff is Sean Taborer, who retired in 2011 from his job as a neighbourhood schools officer with 30 years’ service with Sussex Police. He was responsible for instructing students of all ages in law, citizenship, personal health and social education issues in the Hastings and Rother area. “We’re looking to move away from the traditional youth club idea and give today’s young people training in life and employment skills,” he said. He will be assisted by both paid and volunteer helpers, catering for up to 30 young people in any one session.

The start of the project has been delayed owing to the illness of Richard Harding, the other director, but Brill is confident that the project will proceed to meet a real need in the community. Funding is in place for the capital expenditure required to convert the premises, including an office on a new mezzanine floor, and bids have been submitted to cover budgeted revenue expenditure. It is hoped to start the project by the end of October.

The building has been mostly standing empty in recent years, apart from the annual hiring by the Rye Society of Artists for its summer exhibition. It was used by the boxing club for a short while, but its use came to a sudden end, it is understood, when the club found more convenient premises on Rye Harbour Road.

Dave Sheppard, one of the trustees, spoke of the work required to overcome years of minimum maintenance to the interior. Once refurbished, the building will also be available for other community uses, and has already been booked for rehearsals for Acting Up in Rye’s panto, Old Mother Hubbard.


Photo: Kenneth Bird