Prince Philip visits Spitalfields’ Attlee Centre
YOUNG people at a thriving community hub said they hoped royal guest Prince Philip realised how special their centre is when he visited last night.
Members of Spitalfields’ Attlee Youth and Community Centre chatted with the Duke of Edinburgh about the sports facilities, careers help and support available to them during his tour of the facility.
The Prince arrived at 6.30pm and spent an almost an hour hearing tales from more than a dozen youngsters.
Jumel Chowdhury, 16, has been attending the centre since he was four years old.
The sporty teen – who is also a trained first aider - was one of several who guided the royal around the Astroturf pitches, badminton courts and pool tables.
He said: “This place is like a second home to me. It’s helped me a lot.
“Some people I grew up with have ended up on the wrong path and got into drugs. This has been a safe haven for me. I want the Prince to see the warm atmosphere here.”
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The centre, in Thrawl Street, Spitalfields, brings together four to 23-year-olds with and without disabilities.
Tracey Fletcher, CEO of the Attlee Foundation, said: “This is a very restricted area. It’s a hard place to live. I hope the Duke sees the opportunities we give to young people, helping to raise their aspirations.”
The centre relies heavily on volunteers – many of whom attended themselves in their younger years.
About 70 per cent of funds come from Tower Hamlets council, 20 per cent from provate and business donations and the remaining cash from renting out the pitches and halls.
But with spending cuts of more than 25 per cent facing local authorities following yesterday’s Comprehensive Spending Review, there are fears that the centre’s vital work could be jeopardised.
Ms Fletcher added: “The government must follow through with their commitment to the voluntary sector. But we want to develop more links with the private sector as the cuts may affect us.”
Jas Hothi, sports development officer of London Youth, said: “There isn’t a lot of green space for young people here so places like this are vital.”