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Youngsters helping to build an inner city oasis

STRONG BOND: Tim Loughton (right) plays with youngsters at the new playground and St George’s director Dr Bob Tyler after the tree planting ceremony

A NEW playground which will remain open 365 days a year has just opened in Birmingham weeks after the city was one of many areas in the UK thrown into turmoil by gangs of rioting youths.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton played the joker with children as they all helped to plant a new tree at the centre of the new play space in the grounds of St George’s Community Hub in Newtown.

Bordered with colourful flower beds, the playground will be available for use by local nursery school children and youngsters at the nearby primary school. It has been sponsored by Birmingham City Council on a site given to St George’s on a free 25-year lease by the Birmingham Diocese.

Dr Bob Tyler, director of St George’s, said: “This is a credit to our young people here, who rather than take to the streets and cause trouble, gave their time to developing this project.”

Scores of local youngsters helped to prepare the playground for opening, which was hailed by Mr Loughton as an oasis in the heart of Birmingham’s inner-city.

He said: “The young people who were helping to create this play space did not feel the need to take part in the riots, which speaks volumes for what St George’s can offer them.

“Every community needs someone like Dr Bob who helps to provide facilities for youngsters and give them a sense of belonging.”

Mr Loughton has formed a strong bond with the local Newtown community and visits regularly after he appeared in the Channel 4 documentary Tower Block of Commons.

He stayed with several hard-up families as part of the programme where he emerged as one of the stars.

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