Bolton’s Lads and Girls Club was buzzing with energy last night during the official reopening, following a £2m revamp.

Chief executive Karen Edwards realised the potential for the club a couple years before Covid hit, after she says the building started looking ‘tired’.

Karen says that she wanted to “ensure that the building was a safe and inspiring place for all young people”.

After being closed for a year, Karen says that she was keen to reach out to those who may have been ‘struggling’.

She added: “When we were closed for a year, it was really difficult.

“Young people need a safe place to go, particularly in the town centre.

“Today we opened and it’s absolutely fantastic to see so many young people here.

“They have come here tonight to see what we have done in the building, and they have been blown away.

“It’s been quite an emotional day, and it’s been a really wonderful experience.

“It feels like we are back home.”

The Bolton News: Chief Executive Karen Edwards with senior youth worker, Naomi Bainbridge, and club membersChief Executive Karen Edwards with senior youth worker, Naomi Bainbridge, and club members

Many of the members have influenced the new look, including coming up with positive words to describe the club on the wall; as well as the name of the centre ‘infinity’; and pictures of public figures they look up to such as Steve Jobs, and Marcus Rashford.

Another idea that members came up with was a wand system at the entrance which checks for weapons.

Karen said: “This is because young people asked us.

“We have a group of young people delivering training programmes on knife crime, which they hope to role out in schools and organisations.

“This is done through the Enterprise and Employability service.

“Young people value the investment made in them.

“And members have been keen to get back into the building.

“As adults we want good quality fit for purpose places, and young people are no different.

“They love it because they feel like we are listening to them.”

The Bolton News: Club member loving the new lookClub member loving the new look

One of the highlights of the day was the visit from Amir Khan, where he first picked up a pair of boxing gloves.

Karen added: “He first picked up his boxing gloves here at eight-years-old.

“He was really keen to come down and chat to all the young people here, and he was blown away.

“We are so pleased that he made time out of his diary to come.”

The new youth club is complete with a new fitness suite; Astro turf pitch; music studio; art room; sports hall; a free of charge gym; gaming room; and toilets regardless of gender.

The new kitchen area also offers a hot meal for youngsters at a maximum price of £1, to help with the rise in the cost of living.

Half of the investment has come from individual anonymous donors, whilst the other half has come from funds which were ring fenced over the years for maintenance of the building.

She added: “Since it was built in the late 90s early 2000s things had changed a lot and we felt we were lacking in the technology to support young people.

“So, we set about a challenge to raise £1m to refurbish the club.

The Bolton News: Club members enjoying a game of table tennisClub members enjoying a game of table tennis

“We initially decided to focus on two or three areas, but we ended up doing the whole lot.

“I think being part of a young person’s journey whether it’s a small or massive impact, is life changing, as well as lifesaving.

“It’s what gets me out of bed every day.

“I love changing people’s lives.”

The youth club is currently on a huge recruitment drive for staff and volunteers.

Membership is completely free, and more information can be found here (