Leeds youth project under threat after trio of break-ins

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A youth project run by local volunteers is under threat after a third break-in at its premises in just six months.

The Cottingley Youth Project – an after-school club for children aged 11 to 13-years-old – had two computers stolen from Cottingley Church and Community Centre on Cottingley Approach at the weekend.

A total of seven computers have now been taken since the first incident in August last year.

Now there is just one computer between 15 people.

Project founder Rev Jude Smith said: “We rely heavily on the small number of computers we have for everything from research to word processing.

“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.”

The latest break-in happened between 9.30pm on Friday, February 17 and 5.40pm on Saturday, February 18 - just two weeks after three computers were stolen.

The thieves broke a window to access the building.

The project aims to provide a safe place for pupils in years 7 and 8 to get help with their homework from trained support.

It is mainly staffed by volunteers with one paid youth worker but the series of break-ins has put the future of the project under threat.

Rev Smith added: “It’s hard not to take it personally. It makes you annoyed because it is people stealing from their own community.

“It puts more pressure on our volunteer team. At the moment we are carrying on but the level of support we can offer young people is more restricted.

“I would love to get the computers back. I would the people who took them to remember that they are taking opportunities away from younger people in their community.

“We have not been defeated. Each time a break-in happens we are working on security and windows have been changed and equipment is now thoroughly locked away.”

A police spokeswoman said: “Police are appealing for anyone who may be able to assist their enquiry to contact Holbeck NPT on the new non-emergency number 101.”

Faizah Shaheen

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