THE 74-year-old Hunslet Club in inner city Leeds wants to strengthen its relations with the business community in Yorkshire.
The institution aims to help young people achieve their full potential by providing a wide-ranging programme of activities including football, musical theatre, boxing, Irish dance, performing arts, gymnastics, hip hop and ballet.
The Leeds Community Foundation organised a networking evening on Tuesday to promote the work of the club, which caters for more than 2,000 young people a week.
Jason Slack, funding and marketing officer, told the Yorkshire Post: “The Hunslet Club has become one of the largest youth clubs in the UK thanks in no small part to its entrepreneurial model of sustainability.
“Much funding comes from the provision of vocational training courses for students from high schools across Leeds, session subscription fees and function bookings. However, increasing demand for activities to help children and young people reach their potential needs corporate support and will increasingly be the case as austerity measures bite.
“We are looking to form corporate partnerships as well as find companies who can provide resources in kind.”
He said the club tries to give a fresh start to young people who are struggling academically.
The club helps them to discover hidden talents, which can lead on to qualifications and apprenticeships and “set them up for life”, said Mr Slack.
The club has 42 members of staff, 92 volunteers and 25 work placements. It costs £1.1m a year to run.
The Leeds Community Foundation, which is backed by funds from late entrepreneur and philanthropist Jimi Heselden, has given grants worth £25,000 to the club. Barclays has funded a volunteer development worker.
Dr John Wyllie launched the Hunslet Club in 1940 at the height of the Blitz when the area was home to thousands of people who worked in the mills, chemicals works and factories of south Leeds.
Notable members include ex-England rugby star Jason Robinson, who said: “The club gave us an outlet for the energy kids have to burn. I don’t know what I would have done without it in the evenings and at weekends.”
Bond Dickinson, the national law firm, hosted the networking event at its offices in Leeds.
Paula Dillon, the real estate lawyer, told the audience that Leeds is a city of great contrasts; it outwardly appears to be affluent but has some of the most deprived areas in Europe.
The foundation has launched a dedicated fund to tackle issues that affect children and young people in the city.
It aims to reduce child poverty, increase health and wellbeing and give hope and direction to young people not in education, employment or training.