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James McArthur


James works as an Intern Writer at The Lincolnite. He is currently working toward a certificate in Proofreading and Copy-editing Skills with Chapterhouse Publishing. In his spare time James helps to promote awareness of animal rights issues with the RSPCA and contributes a series of short stories to Village Link Magazine.

— The Mayoral Medals series introduces you to the six inspirational people who won the award this year, chosen by the Right Worshipful Mayor of Lincoln. More stories from this series.

Pete Genders, founder and Chief Executive of Off The Bench, a voluntary youth organisation, received a Mayoral Medal for his work with disadvantaged young people in Lincoln.

Off The Bench (OTB) is constantly growing and works across a large number of local areas. They work with young people to empower them with a range of positive projects.

One such project is the new Grounded coffee shop and advice centre on Monks Road. It’s there that they‘re working with several key partner agencies to offer support and guidance to young people.

Pete says he is grateful to the businesses and organisations that are willing to work with his volunteer group: “There are some outstanding organisations working in Lincoln, such as Development Plus and Leap, who support many of our programmes. It’s because of these strong links that we can all help each other out and provide the wonderful service we do.”

“The support we have been shown over the past year is breathtaking. We feel very honoured.”

Pete was keen to stress the importance of all the staff who work at Off the Bench: “I have always been determined to succeed and to make a difference within the community, however I could never do this alone.”

“The award was not only for me but recognition of all the hard work the OTB staff and volunteer team do in Lincoln. We are all passionate about the community and determined for OTB to be a fantastic flagship project within Lincolnshire and beyond.”

Supporters of Off the Bench include Lincolnshire County Council, Lincolnshire Co-operative, the City of Lincoln Council and Lincolnshire Sports Partnership and StreetGames.

The Ritz renovation — a project at Off the Bench — is taking shape well. Pete added: “The Ritz is such a huge project and one I am so passionate about. As the project progresses we have come to realise what a mammoth undertaking this project is and the time it will take to fully realise our dreams for the place.”

He added: “As with all projects at OTB, this could not be possible without the huge volunteer team we have working to make everything happen.”

“Once the asbestos has been removed from The Ritz, Off The Bench will be throwing open the doors for volunteers to come in and contribute to the renovation.”

For more information about Off the Bench, and details of OTB-sponsored events across Lincoln, visit the OTB website.

Photo: Joshua Potter for The Lincolnite

— The Mayoral Medals series introduces you to the six inspirational people who won the award this year, chosen by the Right Worshipful Mayor of Lincoln. More stories from this series.

Bev Smith was awarded the medal for her work with Abbey Youthie, where she helped to get 50 people off the streets and engaged in useful activities.

Abbey Ward has some of the highest rates of crime and anti-social behavior in Lincoln. However, since the increased introduction of community-based projects, Abbey Ward has seen a 40% drop in burglaries.

She said: “It was great to achieve the award, it has given me more determination to continue to support and encourage positivity in my community.

“Although I was flattered to receive the award, there is a lot of hard work carried out at Abbey Youthie by many individuals, that shouldn’t go unnoticed. We work very much as a team.

Abbey Youthie, a voluntary-run youth club on the corner of Croft Street in Lincoln, offers a wide range of sports and fun activities for young people, including arts and crafts, electronic entertainment, indoor and outdoor games and a variety of popular children’s sports.

“I’ve run Abbey Youthie for five years now. It offers a place for youngsters to go in the area. Here, people can access many facilities, which wouldn’t be possible without the support of other groups such as Off the Bench. It’s great that we have that support,” said Bev.

“Kids can come here to play pool, table tennis, badminton and take part in arts and crafts. It’s a great way to get young people involved in positive action.”

On March 29th, Abbey Youthie held its Abbey Allstars Concert, an event supported by local youth groups to showcase the new skills and talents learnt by many of the young people to a 100-strong audience, such as singing, dancing and gymnastics.

The youth group has already shown that it encourages societal integration. Bev commented: “Around one-third of the young children that attend Abbey Youthie are Eastern European. It’s very important that they feel part of our community and it’s great that we can provide that.”

For more information about the activities on offer at Abbey Youthie, or to learn more about the youth engagement programme, contact Bev Smith on 07988 229720.

Photo: Joshua Potter for The Lincolnite

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