Burnley : News

Burnley Boys and Girls Club: “We never judge, and everyone always leaves with a smile.”

“We never judge, and everyone always leaves with a smile.” That’s the motto of Burnley Boys and Girls Club (BBGC) on Barden Lane, a place you may have driven past countless times but never been sure what it is. 

However, to the hundreds of young people who have passed through its doors, it is a sanctuary, somewhere they get food, do activities and offload what’s on their mind and a place they can call home, Melissa Wood, events coordinator at BBGC, told Burnley.co.uk. 

“We welcome all children aged from 5 through to 19, although we do go up to 25 for young people with special needs and who require additional support. We’ve found that many of the children’s parents came here when they were younger too, it’s an integral part of the community,” Melissa said. 

So much so, that the club was the most affordable in Burnley over the summer holidays in terms of numbers and cost per head. It ran for four weeks, welcomed over 700 young people through its doors and fed each child and provided them with activities. Every child whose parents receive Uniersal Credit, or some form of benefit get the whole four weeks free of charge with breakfast and a hot meal at dinner included. 

For the paying children it cost £8.47 for a four-hour session, but the club gave another four hours for free, this included breakfast and hot meal at lunch as well. 

“We had a few people who even travelled from outside of the area to attend our sessions due to the value for money and reputation we have. Our sessions were incredibly good value. We’re also proud that we received referrals from Alder Hey Hospital for local children who had been in isolation for 18 months and needed reintegrating into a social environment,” she explained. 

BBGC is also the only children’s charity to receive referrals from the Children and Family Wellbeing Service due to the rapport they have with their members, and they also refer children to the service. 

So how did the club begin? It is Burnley’s oldest charity and celebrated 120 years in October 2019. It was founded in 1898 by Henry Riley of Briercliffe, who gathered several young boys together to give them a focus after they would often get themselves into a spot of trouble. By 1914, it had reached 600 members, 125 of whom joined Captain Riley on the first day of the Battle of Somme. Sadly, they were all killed at war and after popular demand, the club recently created a remembrance garden to recognise all members who have fought for their country. 

Fast forward to today and the club is split 50/50 in terms of girls and boys. It has open sessions for 5–19-year-olds on Tuesdays and Fridays 7-9pm and on Wednesdays and Thursdays 5-7pm. Everything from basketball, table tennis, football, dance, drama and art is available and the work is youth-led by club ambassadors. 

A club for everyone 

Graham, the chief officer, has established a sister club in Whalley after he noticed similar social issues in the town where he lives. Melissa explained that whilst there aren’t the same economic issues in Whalley, the social issues amongst young people were still present. The club has been such a success that the crime commissioner even gave it their support. 

The club has a function room that can be booked out for all occasions and all money is ploughed back into the charity. BBGC is currently fundraising for a 4G pitch, as well as to make sure the building is as welcoming, modern and fit for purpose as possible. 

There are only two rules for members – never to judge anyone and to leave with a smile. 

And after meeting the enthusiastic team at BBGC, we are pretty sure those rules are followed each and every week.