THREE break-ins in six months are threatening a successful after-school club in Leeds. On each occasion, the thieves who targeted the Cottingley Youth Project stole computers.
The latest incident, two weeks ago, came just days after its three touch-screen computers were replaced after a theft in January. The project’s first two computers were stolen last August. Now, the 15 pupils, aged from 11 to 13, have one machine among them.
The project’s founder, the Revd Jude Smith, Pioneer Minister with the Beeston Team Ministry, said: “If it reaches the point where we are no longer able to replenish what gets stolen, then we just cannot continue
. . . This is a community where fewer than 50 per cent of people have any qualifications, and less than one in five children arrives at school having achieved their age-related expectation.
“Each time we lose computers it directly affects Cottingley young people’s ability to keep up at school — an attack on the project is an attack on the wider community.”
Miss Smith thinks that the thieves are from the area. “When you are doing something educationally positive, you are faced by some people who don’t want to know.
“The children are disappointed, but sometimes they feel like people who only ever have bad things happen to them. It’s not a shock — there’s almost an expectation of ‘Good things can’t last for long.’ That to me is the really disappointing part.”