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£460,000 awarded to deprived area

A GRANT amounting to £460,000 is to be used to tackle teenage pregnancies, drug abuse and poor health in one of Kent's most deprived areas. The money for Northgate at Canterbury comes from the New opportunities Fund which distributes lottery money to educational and health schemes, and will be used to finance a community project.

The ward is the third most deprived in the county. Brian Clacy, from Kent Social Services, said the grant took the amount of funding Northgate was due to receive over the next couple of years to £1million. He added: "People in the most deprived areas suffer more from ill health and die younger. This will redress that imbalance."

The New Opportunities money will fund the Northgate Family Project, which will bring professional drama groups into classrooms to help children explore issues such as bullying, drug abuse, teenage pregnancies and mental health.

The project will also pay for a healthy living worker, a women's health course and support services, places where residents can access health information via a computer and a drugs education programme. Sandy Turner, head teacher at Parkside School, said the award was exciting news for her pupils and their families.

The school takes children of mothers from the women's refuge and the Vauxhall Road travellers' site and the majority of its pupils have special needs. Mrs Turner said: "Theatre and the arts are one of the best ways to communicate with young children and to help them enjoy themselves and feel good about themselves.

"Then they can make the best of the opportunities we can give them."

Northgate councillor Ron Pepper said the award recognised that Northgate was an area in need of help and said it would transform the lives of a lot of people.

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