A youth centre is helping recent arrivals from the mainland to adapt to their new life in Hong Kong by pairing them up with local youths. Established in 1996, the HOPE of Kids Centre was set up by a non-profit-making organisation to serve children newly arrived from the mainland. Opened by the HOPE (Help Other People Everywhere) Worldwide Hong Kong office, the Tai Kok Tsui centre helps young immigrants to adapt to their new life and improve their English. The centre's Big Brothers Big Sisters scheme is a one-on-one mentor programme to help mainland children to build up contact with local people and adjust to the Hong Kong way of life as quickly as possible. In the three-month programme, a local boy or girl is paired up with a mainland immigrant and they go on outings every fortnight. Besides visiting the Peak, museums and other attractions, the new arrivals learn how to use Government resources and facilities, such as how to book a badminton court, and how to take trams, ferries and buses. Kenneth Au Yeung Ka-yu, programme director (Hong Kong) of HOPE Worldwide, said the aim of the programme was to build up a close relationship between mainland immigrants and local youths. 'When they first come, they have low self-esteem and tend to make friends with other immigrant children. Firstly, it is because they are shy and unfamiliar with the place. Secondly, it is because they think immigrant children and local children are not the same,' he said. The local 'brothers' or 'sisters' help the immigrants to solve any problems they may encounter. 'If we Hong Kong people do help, they will become one of us very soon,' Mr Au Yeung said. Immigrants aged between nine and 15 who arrived less than a year ago can join and attend courses and activities organised by the centre. The centre has more than 300 members. Mr Au Yeung said the centre was opened in Tai Kok Tsui because a lot of new arrivals from the mainland lived in neighbouring districts. 'Most of the parents have to work, so they do not have time to take care of their children. Or some are illiterate, so they do not know how to teach homework. 'The centre, first, provides them with a safe place to play. More important, we have volunteer tutors on standby to take care of their homework.' Teachers teach basic English through activities and games. 'They need encouragement and praise. We create a relaxed atmosphere and hope that they can learn English in a friendly environment,' Mr Au Yeung said. The homework corner and the Big Brothers Big Sisters programme were very popular with members, he said.