SUPERHEROES are turning around the lives of troubled youngsters.
Artist John Bulley has teamed up with housing association South Essex Homes to launch a community project for children close to being excluded from school.
Every Wednesday, Mr Bulley meets with seven youngsters from Shoebury High School to work on an extraordinary superhero mural in the Victoria shopping centre, in Southend.
The project, launched three months ago, is aimed at showing young people how to use their creative skills to turn their lives around and get back on track.
The scheme is part of the South Essex Homes Attainment Through Football Scheme, which for the last year has given young people opportunities through art, as well as sport.
Mr Bulley, from Southend, is behind a number of urban art installations around the town, including a mural of film star gangsters in Pleasant Road, Southend.
He said: "South Essex Homes provided the funding for the project. It's for kids who are close to being kicked out of school, to try to keep them on board.
"The kids chose what superheroes they wanted and I drew the outlines for them and then I let them go mental on them. They have lots of fun."
The superheroes are painted on 8ft by 4ft mdf boards, using acrylics and spray.
Mr Bulley added: "The Victoria centre have been very supportive of everything we are trying to do. Without the help of Shoebury High School and South Essex Homes, this wouldn't be possible.
"I'm very hands on with them and very disciplined. I don't let them mess about. It's about rehabilitation, getting them to do something creative and doing things they wouldn't normally do. They're not bad kids at heart and I love doing this."
Stuart Long, 43, from Southend, is the community development manager for South Essex Homes.
He said: "This project gives young people opportunities they would not normally have the chance of. It engages them and encourages them to do different stuff.
"We started with a football club in 2012 and now we are doing art projects to help kids at risk of being excluded.
"Some parents aren't able to afford to let their kids join football clubs as it can cost £100 to sign up and and then they have to run them around every weekend. We run sessions for up to 200 people a week and now we have some ex-offenders who are coaching other kids ."