New era begins for ‘valuable’ youth venue in Lowestoft
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Two years ago, its future looked decidedly bleak.
But a Lowestoft youth club has entered a bright new era after being saved from the threat of closure.
On Monday, responsibility for Colville House in School Road was passed to a charity made up of community-minded people who want to keep the venue running to benefit young people in the area.
The Colville House Management Company was handed the keys by Suffolk County Council, which withdrew funding for the venue as part of its drive to cut £42.5m from its budget two years ago.
The recently-formed charity and limited company has pledged to secure a bright new future for the youth club, which has up to 60 young people attending its nightly session on Mondays and Wednesdays.
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To celebrate the new era for Colville House, a relaunch evening has been arranged for Friday, April 5, with past and present members invited to turn up and share their memories.
Among those present will be Brian Hunter, the chairman of the management company who, like other members of the group, has been working hard for the last 18 months to secure the venue's future.
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Mr Hunter said: 'When the county council said it would no longer be funding Colville House, we decided we could not let it be taken away as it is such a valuable community asset.
'This is an exciting, but nevertheless a daunting challenge for us but we feel the potential benefit to the local community is worth the efforts that will be needed to make a successful project.'
The management company will need to find £40,000 a year to run Colville House, and its team of youth workers is being cut from four to three.
However Mr Hunter said the club and its members, who enjoyed activities such as pool, computer games, football and live music, should notice a positive change in the future.
He said: 'We have ambitions of opening the youth club for a third night – hopefully on Thursdays.'
As well as the youth club, Colville House will continue to host local groups and organisations, including the University of the Third Age, East Point Academy, Lowestoft Live Arts and the Lowestoft Visually Impaired Activities Group.
The county council has given the management company the building on a peppercorn rent for 10 years and handed it £20,000 to help fund Colville House over the next three years, leaving the volunteers to raise the rest of the money they need through rents and grants.
The Colville House Management Company has 12 members on its board, including treasurer Alan Denton and Karen Booth who will be in charge of youth workers.
Anyone who wants to volunteer at Colville House – or wishes to attend the re-launch evening next Friday – should contact Mr Hunter by Monday on 01502 582901 or by email at email@example.com