A CENTRE that provides free ICT, English and maths courses to unemployed 16 to 25-year-olds celebrated its first birthday with a visit from Mayor of Barnsley Coun Pauline Markham.

The Educational Learning Support Hub (ELSH), based on Sheffield Road, supports young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).

In addition to this, the centre also teaches English as a second language and supports asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.

Florentine Bootha-King, the founder of ELSH, said: “Our first year has been extremely successful. We have helped more than 150 students and we hold several lessons a week that have up to 40 students in each.

“It’s so wonderful to see how far the students have progressed and to hear them talk about what they aspire to do in the future. It makes doing what we do worthwhile.

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“We have partnered up with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) and have some wonderful volunteers who dedicate their time and this is allowing us to grow as an organisation.

“Northern College and Barnsley College have sent students to help on placement and we have received funding from SYFAB, the Kingstone Ward Alliance, Henry Boot and others.

“Without them, we would struggle to keep doing what we do as we do rely heavily on grants.

“We are looking for more volunteers to help us as the new year begins.

“We are seeking teachers to help accommodate the needs of the students, IT to support the hub with the website and social media and housekeeping and receptionists.

“I am passionate about opening doors for young people and allowing them to reach their potential whether it’s by teaching them IT skills or teaching English so they can communicate better in society.”

Following the mayor’s visit to ELSH, she awarded students certificates at a ceremony which was held at the town hall last Thursday.

n For those who are interested, call 643249 or 07504 542980.