Christian charity submits bid to take over Thornbury's youth centre

First published in News Exclusive by

A CHRISTIAN charity has submitted a bid to take over Thornbury’s youth centre when the local authority relinquishes its control of the service in 2013, the Gazette has learnt.

Krunch, a volunteer group based in the West Midlands, formally registered its interest to run Area 35 on Friday, November 9 and submitted its business proposal for the local centre based at Turnberrie's.

Back in September, South Gloucestershire councillors, faced with cuts of nearly £1 million to the youth provision budget, opted to stop funding seven of the region’s 13 clubs and invite private organisations to run them instead.

The faith-based charity has been supporting young people across the West Midlands since September 1999 and is the brainchild of Jon Grant.

It is known nationwide for its work with troubled and disadvantaged youngsters and came under the media spotlight last year when Prime Minister David Cameron launched his Troubled Families scheme at the Krunch headquarters.

But this background has raised some concerns among Thornbury leaders who fear that the organisation may give priority to disaffected teenagers to the detriment of the rest of the town's under-18 population.

Cllr Clive Parkinson said: "The town council's view is that the new youth services provision should include a universal provision for the whole of the town, not for a particular section of the town.

"It's clear that Krunch have done some good work in the West Midlands where they have been delivering youth services. A lot of what they do is extremely good. But they have tended to concentrate on one section of the youths and we would like if they took over to extend it to all the youth of the town."

But Krunch director Jon Grant dismissed these concerns insisting that, if successful, the charity would aim its services at youngsters from all walks of life.

He said: "We are not aiming to just deliver a youth offer for troubled young people. It’s for all the young people of Thornbury. We might do some targeted work but that would be separate."

The volunteer group put its name forward to run Thornbury’s youth centre because of its connections with the town, he added.

"We thought of Thornbury when this came up as an opportunity because one of the members who founded Krunch and one of the trustees live in Thornbury," he said. "They have a local understanding of the needs of young people."

As no other organisation expressed an interest in taking over Area 35, if Krunch's proposal is rejected by the district council, Thornbury could lose its youth centre for good.

South Gloucestershire Council is now reviewing Krunch’s proposal.

A spokesman said: "We are pursuing an agreed process that is not yet completed and at present no decisions have been made in relation to the transfer of any youth centres.

"The committee report indicated that business plans were to be submitted by the end of October, followed by an assessment process during November."

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