A MEMORIAL garden dedicated to a Wearside murder victim has been revamped as part of a £45,000 makeover at a Sunderland community scheme.
The area at Hendon Young People’s Project (HYPP) is a tribute to member Nikki Allan, a seven-year-old girl who was killed in the city’s East End.
As part of a revamp at the centre, the garden has been spruced up by volunteers and it now also remembers other project members who have died.
Project chairwoman Hazel Clark cut gold ribbons to declare the garden and other work officially open, watched by Hendon councillor Tom Martin.
He said: “It’s great to see the work the children in the area have put into this and just shows the majority of the youth we have are respectful and helpful.”
The makeover has also meant that young people can also enjoy some recession-busting fun after arcade machines, including a fast-paced dance mat game, were installed.
Youngsters told youth workers that they loved playing on the games, but the cost hit their pocket money – and their parents’ pockets – hard.
So project co-ordinator Richy Duggan helped to find re-conditioned machines which are free for young people to play on, after they have paid their 50p admission to the project, in Church Street East.
He said: “Over the course of the last 12 months, we have been doing some fund-raising in terms of revamping the building.
“We’ve done a lot of consultation with the young people as to what they would like and it was the stuff around games and technology.”
Sunderland City Council’s strategic investment plan and strategic initiatives budget also funded new computers for the project, while the capital project paid for building works, Thompson’s builders donated a plaque and Emily’s Nursery in Grangetown donated plants for the garden.
Regeneration project Back on the Map also supplied funding for HYPP’s makeover in one of the last grants it handed out, before reverting to a charity in March.
For more information on HYPP, visit www.hyppsunderland.co.uk or search HYPP on Facebook.
HYPP was one of a number of projects in the east of Sunderland which revealed it had suffered massive funding cuts.
Youth groups there are battling against an £800,000 drop in financial support, which came with the end of regeneration project Back on the Map, which ploughed millions into the Hendon and East End.
Backing from Sunderland Council and Gentoo also ended, bringing the total lost to £814,418.
Richy explained how HYPP has been able to secure funding for its revamp.
“It’s been a long, drawn-out thing,” he said.
“It has not just come overnight and all the garden was done by volunteers.”