Royston youth club closes for good due to lack of funds

Jack Patterson, Cllr Rob Inwood, Alex Schroeder, Judy Palmer, Katie Hall, Tammy and Sonnie Hall, Kas

Jack Patterson, Cllr Rob Inwood, Alex Schroeder, Judy Palmer, Katie Hall, Tammy and Sonnie Hall, Kasia Kotulska and Maya - Credit: Archant

A Royston youth club – which provided youngsters in the town with a safe place to socialise – has permanently closed its doors due to a lack of funding.

Burns Road Hangout, which had about 20 children regularly attend, will not re-open as originally planned in September as it has become ‘more difficult’ to secure external funding and pay for permanent staff.

The youth club, run by North Herts District Council and based at Coombes Community Centre, opened in 2008 and offered a range of activities, as well as trips out such as the Christmas visit to Cambridge at the end of last year.

Parent Kasia Kotulska said: “It saddened me that Friday Hangout has closed. It is a highly valued service for the community.

“The indoor setting allowed for the middle school children to meet up once a week, no matter what the weather, and play in a safe, supervised environment.

“The leaders and volunteers were wonderful and it was great for the kids to have contact with young adults, people who could still relate to them but offer experience as well.”

The closure of the youth club is an especially hard pill to swallow, in light of the news that an extra £2.5m will be spent on refurbishing North Herts District Council’s head office – on top of more than £7m which has already been allocated to the site.

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Kasia added: “The money allocated to refurbishment of the offices cannot be transferred to be spent on other departments or services, and I knew that before, but it infuriates me that huge amount of money will be spent on offices – whether it is needed or not – while useful services to the wider community are cut.

“I don’t see how this country will ever achieve equality of opportunity for young people if we cut spending on them on every level.”

Councillor Tony Hunter, who is responsible for community engagement at North Herts District Council, said: “When Burns Road Hangout opened in 2008 it was funded for the first three years by Big Lottery funding. After that funding expired in 2011, NHDC worked tirelessly to secure a range of small grants to sustain the project from different sources including Sported, the Lloyds Bank community fund, locality budgets from Herts County Council and NHDC’s Royston Area Committee.

“We have been looking at a number of different options, but in the current economic climate it has become more difficult to secure external funding and sustain permanent staff for ongoing projects. The right staff and funding are the key to a successful project and this cannot be enabled at present in the long term.”