Funding crisis for cash-strapped youth groups

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YOUTH groups that help thousands of young Wearsiders face cutting services after losing out on more than £800,000 in support.

Projects in the east of Sunderland are warning of the impact on families after missing out on vital cash after a number of funding sources dried up.

Now youth groups have said they could be forced to cut services to about 8,000 eight to 19-year-olds.

Groups affected are Sans Street Youth and Community Centre, Hendon, The Box Youth Project, Hall Farm, Young Asian Voices, East End, Blue Watch Youth Centre, Ryhope and Hendon Young People’s Project (HYPP).

The projects organise activities including youth clubs, school holiday programmes and work for young people at risk of becoming involved in antisocial behaviour and crime.

One of the biggest dips in funding came with the end of regeneration project Back on the Map (BotM), which ploughed millions into the Hendon and East End.

Backing from Sunderland Council and Gentoo has also ended, bringing the total lost to £814,418.

Now some youth leaders fear their good work could be undone.

Sue Mileson, from Sans Street, said: “The only reasons we got New Deal for Communities (Back on the Map) is because of the levels of deprivation.

“They have come down a bit, but are going to dramatically increase.

“What was all that investment for if it is just going to go to waste?”

Richy Duggen, from HYPP, said: “We will have to reduce services because of funding cuts, and this will have a massive effect on services to young people and families across the whole of the east of the city.

“However, we are actively looking for funding and won’t go away without a fight.”

Michelle Meldrum, deputy director at Gentoo Sunderland, said: “Gentoo’s contribution to youth provision has not reduced, however it is now proportioned out differently.

“Historically, we have funded a range of smaller youth providers across the city in targeted areas.

“However, we now give a considerable contribution towards the cost of the XL youth villages and less to individual providers.

“We are now also funding other new programmes such as an innovative cinema project and we are also working in schools with partners to educate young people about the consequences of engaging in antisocial behaviour, as well as the city’s Young Achievers awards.”

Coun Alan Emerson, vice-chairman of the East Area Committee, said: “Sunderland, along with all other councils across the country, is facing a major period of change in how it delivers services and provision for young people.

“The real impact of the transformation plans will only emerge once the ongoing reviews taking place nationally and locally throughout 2012 to 2014 are completed.

“Whatever the outcome, we will continue to provide a wide range of facilities for young people in the communities covered by East Area Committee which include, for example, the electronic village halls and sports clubs, which offer a range of activities.

“The core offer of youth work for 13 to 19-year-olds which will remain, per ward, is three sessions per week of commissioned work.

“This includes a regular programme of activities, which is enhanced by additional provision through the sports, leisure, training and IT facilities provided by the mobile XL youth villages and the two XL buses.

“Each ward will be affected to varying degrees, but we will work hard together to minimise the impact wherever possible.“

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Funding lost since March 2011:

Blue Watch Youth Centre: £123,547

Box Youth Project: £52,177

Hendon Youth Initiative: £268,298

Hendon Young People’s Project: £86,000

Projects commissioned by Sunderland Council: £169,500

Young Asian Voices: £79,149

Case study:

Along with Sans Street and Young Asian Voices, HYPP forms Hendon Youth Initiative (HYI).

The three groups were part of the original funding bid which secured the Weekend Workout project at the Raich Carter Centre in Hendon.

As reported in the Echo, Weekend Workout organisers fear it could close down if its bid for five year’s worth of Lottery funding is denied.

However, HYI has been successful in gaining some funding from council’s Strategic Initiative Budget to deliver youth work sessions in Hendon and St Michael’s wards over the next 12 months.

Across the city, a youth project at Southwick Sports Hall has also hit funding problems.

The hall was running a youth club for young children and teenagers, five nights a week.

But money from the national Positive Futures project, handed out by the council, has come to an end.