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Youth organisation moves to premises named after late founder
A charity which helps young people stay on the right track is celebrating the opening of its new head office in memory of its late founder.
The Joint Activities & Motor Education Service (JAMES) provides a huge range of support including alternative education, volunteering and traineeships in skills such as sports, art, environmental work and mechanics for five to 19-year-olds.
When fully equipped up to 15 young people will use the garage each day, but the charity hopes to eventually get independent school status and work full-time with children and teenagers.
The charity, which helps around 2,000 people a year, is the merger of Joint Activities Service and Bradford Motor Education Project.
The latter was started by the late Eric Gibbs MBE who was a probation officer and started the charity working with the Probation Service, after seeing so many young people in court for vehicle-related crime.
JAMES development manager Anna Shepherd said: “Hopefully this will hold a lot of his memory and celebrate everything he’s done and everything we do in the future.”
Former circuit judge Terry Walsh spoke at the opening yesterday. He is involved with the charities and was a close friend of Mr Gibbs.
He said: “Eric was always a good judge of character and this was put to good effect in two ways – first he had an unerring skill in identifying that spark in someone whom others had written off as a serial offender hence the number of lives which the projects have changed.
“Second he commanded respect, affection and loyalty.”
Peter Forrest started with the provision as a service user and now is a paid member of JAMES staff. He said: “I’ve not got a bad word to say about the project. If I hadn’t come here I’d probably be in trouble with the police, dossing in a council house and claiming benefits.
“Now I help young people like I was, trying to give them a better future.”
JAMES works with at-risk young people and their families within a community setting. It delivers more than 31 programmes from 12 specialist bases across the district; including a marine division on the Leeds and Liverpool canal, mechanic workshops and an accreditation centre.