Hundreds sign petition to save Derbyshire’s OzBox scheme

OzBox has been a success throughout the county. Pictured are children taking part in the scheme in 2009.

OzBox has been a success throughout the county. Pictured are children taking part in the scheme in 2009.

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More than 800 people have signed a petition aimed at saving a long-running scheme which has helped thousands of youngsters across Derbyshire.

OzBox – which provides free fitness sessions to young people in a bid to keep them healthy and off the streets – will be axed on January 31 because of budget cuts.

The ONLINE PETITION to keep the scheme going has currently been signed by 830 people.

Johnathan Scothern added: “When I first started OzBox I was really depressed as I got bullied through school and college. There were times I thought about ending my life. I’m now 23 and wouldn’t be where I am today without OzBox.”

Debbie Saxby and her son have attended OzBox sessions for more than seven years. She said: “There is a strong community spirit within OzBox, rather like an extended family, supporting and encouraging each other. The closure of such a valuable scheme would leave a huge gap in the community.”

Sophie Long said: “I grew up being told I’d never be good enough for anyone or anything – then I started OzBox. I was a very depressed person but it taught me to be strong and boost my self-esteem.”

OzBox has been funded by Derbyshire Constabulary and Derbyshire County Council since 2003 and was supported by money from the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) for the past three years. The BLF money runs out soon and police and council chiefs are unable to continue funding the scheme because they are having to make “devastating” budget cuts.

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