Save our Reydon youth club plea

A DESPERATE rallying cry has been made to save a Reydon youth club – with a warning it faces closure unless people come forward to help secure its long-term future.

The Reydon Youth Centre needs three volunteers to form a club committee so it can apply for vital funding to cover running costs amounting to �18,000 a year. It comes after Suffolk County Council slashed its budget for youth services, leaving the centre with one year to find enough money to stay open.

One youth worker warned this week that youngsters could get into trouble if they lose the service, which is attended by more than 50 young people at the Old School site on Wangford Road.

But the county council has agreed to help the centre establish itself as a charity and apply for grants in the future.

Sheryl Aldridge, 37, of Carlton Colville, has been a youth worker at the centre for the past eight years.


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She said: 'I was devastated when I discovered the county council would be cutting its funding. I feel for the young people within the community. I have become personally involved with these young people and I can foresee problems if they don't have somewhere where they can go and spend their time.

'I know there is funding out there, and I've been successful in securing money for equipment in the past. It will take a bit of effort, but it needs more people than just me to keep it going. I'm appealing to the community to save this youth club, because ultimately it's them, and their children, who will be affected in the long run.'

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She added: 'We do have a small amount of money to keep us going, and the staff are willing to work on a voluntary basis for a short term, but not in the long term.

'I just love working with young people of Reydon – I don't want to stop working with them.'

Earlier this year, Suffolk County Council revealed it would only pay for the centre's running costs and staff wages until July 31 after cutting its budget by �42.5m for the 2011/12 financial year.

Other youth clubs in Waveney have closed as a result of the cuts.

At present, the Reydon Youth Centre cannot apply for charitable funding because it does not have a committee in place. But Mrs Aldridge is hopeful of securing at least three members so she can apply for a county council 'Our Place' grant of up to �15,000, which aims to support community groups delivering local services.

In the meantime, the club has been forced to increase its admission price from 50p to a �1 to cover some costs including internet rental. But its supporters have been boosted by the news that it will be able to move into a new state-of-the-art facility, looked after by Reydon sports and playing field group, once it is built.

A county council spokesman said: 'The council, along with Our Place and Young Suffolk is supporting Reydon Youth Centre to put together a business case to establish themselves as a charity. If a successful business case is provided, a one off transitional grant may be available to them to aid in the setting up of the charity.'

More than 25 children aged seven to 11 attend the junior youth club on Tuesday night from 6.30pm to 8pm, while 10 youngsters aged 12 to 17 attend the senior club on a Thursday night from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. The club also caters for about 25 young people who do not attend on a regular basis.

The centre provides services such as indoor ball games, air hockey, table football, Playstation 3, an art room and a computer suite, as well as taking youngsters on trips to see pop groups and visit theme parks.

Elsewhere in Southwold, fund-raising is under way to collect �60,000 to fund The Loft project, which will cater for 25 young people aged 11 to 18 in a converted loft space at the Stella Peskett Millennium Hall on Mights Road.

However, Mrs Aldridge said that whatever its success, she believed there was still a need for a youth service in Reydon. She said: 'I would say to people look at the numbers of young people we have coming here. We are running with healthy numbers and the young people love attending – that speaks for itself.'

The meeting to recruit committee members will be held on Wednesday, May 30, 7pm, at Reydon Youth Centre.

? For more information, contact Sheryl Aldridge on 01502 722601 or by emailing sheryl.aldridge@suffolk.gov.uk

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