Youth centre in Yate becomes limited company to fight back against cuts

First published in News Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury

A YOUTH centre in Yate is safeguarding its future against council cuts by becoming a limited company.

St Nicholas Youth Centre, in Abbotswood, has launched the South Gloucestershire Youth Initiative which will shortly achieve charitable status paving the way for its 11 trustees to apply for large grants. Although other youth centres are considering their futures, St Nicholas is the first in the district to set itself up as a limited company.

The centre, which currently opens three nights a week, had its local authority funding slashed in half in July when South Gloucestershire Council announced drastic cutbacks to all youth services. But St Nicholas was given an early warning to the savings when its service level agreement with the council, usually signed for three years, was only contracted for 12 months.

"That actually helped us," said the Rev Iain Macfarlane, a trustee and rector at the adjacent St Nicholas Church. "It gave us the impetus to get this charity up and running.

"It will give us access to more funding and we will be applying to places like Children in Need and the National Lottery.

"We will need about £60,000 a year including youth workers and I believe we will do it. We don’t take anything for granted and we have learnt to live with fragility but we have a lot of support.

"I don’t think we will just survive, I think we are going to flourish."

The centre, which was built by the Church of England in 1969 to cater for south Yate’s new housing estates, employs senior youth worker Christina Stokes and aims to serve anyone under the age of 25. It holds a night for primary school aged children, an outreach programme in the local area and is hoping to extend its opening hours to four nights a week shortly.

The trustees, made up of churchgoers and non-Christians, came together following a public meeting in February. They will now work together to secure funding for the centre and its refurbishment which is needed as soon as possible.

Added Mr Macfarlane: "It is hard work but it’s important. It is clear to me that the local community is very supportive. They want this youth centre.

"It is very important that the young people of Abbotswood are not forgotten but are supported and we provide a safe place for them."

An official launch event of South Gloucestershire Youth Initiative will take place on Saturday, February 2 (4pm).

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