Reydon youth club looks forward to bright future

Reydon Youth Centre calling for more committee members to support it otherwise it may close. Sheryl Aldrige with some of the youngsters which go to the centre.

Picture: James Bass

Reydon Youth Centre calling for more committee members to support it otherwise it may close. Sheryl Aldrige with some of the youngsters which go to the centre. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

A youth club in Reydon that was threatened with closure six months ago is now thriving, thanks to the dedication of its volunteers, the support of a sporting group and help from council grants.

In May, the Reydon Youth Centre faced a bleak future as it needed to find £18,000 to keep it running for a year because of council cuts. But the children and young people who rely on the club as a social hub and a source of activities are celebrating after its immediate and medium-term future were secured.

The club’s financial problems were eased after it received £16,000 from Suffolk County Council to cover its running costs. And in another boost, the Southwold and Reydon Recreational Development Council has taken on the responsibility and cost of maintaining the youth centre’s base on the Old School site on Wangford Road.

Meanwhile, the club has seen its regular membership rise from about 50 to 80 and it has also set up a minibus service to pick up young people from surrounding areas.

Sheryl Aldridge, 38, of Carlton Colville, is a youth worker at the club who had appealed for support in May.

She said: “The recreational development council are now providing the building for us to use. That has meant we could focus on applying for funding to continue running the services we offer to young people.

“We’ve been successful in getting £13,000 from a Suffolk County Council transition fund and that will see us well into next year. We’ve also been given £3,000 in small grants from the council and that’s being used to provide projects and events, such as discos, suggested by the young people – they lead what goes on here.

“It has all been a big boost as we have been able to continue to work with young people.

“It is all looking very promising at the moment.”

Describing how the club’s atmosphere had changed since it made its plea for support via The Journal back in May, she added: “The mood was very, very low here then. It was a very difficult time.”

The Southwold and Reydon Recreational Development Council is spending £8,000 after taking on the centre at the Old School site. It hopes to re-locate the youth centre to a new sports and youth pavilion in the next couple of years as part of its plans to improve facilities at the Reydon Playing Field.

Its chairman Graham Langley, who is also chairman of Reydon Youth Centre, said: “By taking on the building it means the club can focus on raising money and organising activities rather than worry about the building itself.

“The council is trying to provide more facilities for young people in Reydon and the youth centre has the same aim.”

The Reydon Youth Centre now has a minibus which provides transport to and from the club for up to 17 young people in the surrounding area. The new service, which was set up with the help of a grant from The Beach radio’s Help and East Coast Child appeal, is so successful that the bus is full on every trip.

The scenes of to 80 young people from the area enjoying the youth club every week were in stark contrast to earlier in the year when the centre feared for its future.

Suffolk County Council had said it could only pay for the centre’s running costs until July 31 after its slashed its youth services funding as part of an overall £42.5m budget cut for the 2011/12 financial year. The authority worked with the centre to see if it could set itself up as charity, then handed over the grant funding.

The Reydon Youth Centre runs two nights for young people – a junior youth club for seven- to 11-year-olds on Tuesdays and a senior club for 12- to 17-year-olds on Thursday nights.

● For information on the Reydon Youth Centre and its minibus service, call Sheryl Aldridge on 07872 699176.

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