Wickwar Youth Club faces fight for survival

A VILLAGE youth centre is fighting for survival this Christmas after having its funding axed in council cuts.

Wickwar Youth Club has launched an appeal to residents in the village to help keep the facility open for the benefit of young people.

Youth workers, volunteers and a group of teenagers who use the club are asking people to make donations of £10 per year to safeguard its future.

Former youth club chairman Val Johnson said: "The youth club has been going for a long time and it has made a difference. For some people in the village who cannot afford to go elsewhere to do things, it is a real lifeline.

"We are so determined because the youth are so behind us."

In September, South Gloucestershire Council agreed to slash its youth services budget by nearly 50 per cent in order to make cuts of more than £1million. The authority opted to relinquish control of seven of its 13 youth centres and said it would only continue to run centres in each of its six priority neighbourhoods.

Youth centres outside of those areas, many of them in rural locations, faced closure or were urged to take over local facilities by forming organisations and charitable trusts.

Said Mrs Johnson: "If we don’t do something the council will sell the building.

"We need about 200 people in the village to pay £10 a year and so far the response has been positive. Wilcox Garages has offered to pay a bigger sum to help and at the moment we can just about cope for the first year. But after that we really need help and we will need resources."

The youth club, which has been running for 30 years, meets at the youth centre on Sodbury Road. The building is owned by South Gloucestershire Council but Wickwar Parish Council has agreed to take over the lease leaving the youth club to find the fees to pay two part-time youth workers and resources.

It currently opens two nights a week and caters for around 60 children aged between 11 and 18.

"We would like to extend and open for a third night at some point in the future," added Mrs Johnson.

"In a rural village with only a rudimentary bus service, the centre fulfils an essential and popular service and need for youth people."

To help contact Val Johnson on 01454 299255 or Wickwar Parish Council on 01454 299120.

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