Karen Boothman, a Child and Youth Worker in Scunthorpe, has been presented with an award for ‘Outstanding voluntary contribution to the community’ for her work with the Riddings Brigade youth group by the High Sherriff of Lincoln at a recent ceremony in Lincoln.

In a career spanning 30 years Karen has dedicated her life to helping children and young people in Scunthorpe. Alongside a team of staff and volunteers they run Riddings Brigade which is for children aged 6-10 years old and Reaching Riddings which is for young people over the age of 11. Both groups meet at Riddings Youth Centre on the Riddings estate in Scunthorpe.

The youth club used to be run by the local council but when funding for it came to an end in 2013 Karen and some fellow workers fought for it to stay open. “It was too good to let it die” said Karen, “all the kids love it and I see children at the club today whose parents I used to look after in the same club 15 to 20 years ago which is a lovely tribute to me and my volunteers.

“I really love what I do and it was such a surprise when I got the letter saying I had won the award. I have no idea who nominated me but would like to say a big thank you to them for thinking of me. But it’s all team work as I wouldn’t be able to do anything without my wonderful colleagues and our volunteers.

“The club gives children in this deprived area of Scunthorpe a real focus and we do lots of fun things such as crafts, cooking and sports as well as teaching them other things like internet and personal safety. The children would like to come more often but that isn’t possible without more funding. 

“We also do our bit in the community and did a sponsored clean up recently tidying up the area in front of an old people’s home near to where we are based. The children loved it as they got to wear high-vis vests and were given a litter picker. They were asking questions about where the litter came from so were learning not to drop things anywhere but to put them in a bin. I grew up on the estate myself so have a very strong bond to it and all the people here.”

Riddings Brigade is entirely funded by the generous donations from local businesses and individuals. The Brigade’s financial accounts administered by St Paul’s Church in Ashby. Reaching Riddings is funded via the Community Fund which is part of the National Lottery.  The grant from the lottery is facilitated by the Diocese of Lincoln so Karen and three other colleagues at the club are members of diocesan staff.