Hitchin youth club in funding appeal as it fights for survival

Club leaders and children outside the youth club

Club leaders and children outside the youth club - Credit: Archant

A youth group could be forced to shut its doors to young people due to funding issues.

The Children and Young People of Westmill (CAYPOW) – a youth engagement project on the Westmill housing estate in Hitchin - is struggling to get funding to keep the project running.

The group, which has run for almost three years, has more than 40 youths, ranging from reception age to teenagers and encourages parents and carers to take part in any of the activities put on.

Group leader, Carla Brooks, said: “We currently use the Westmill Community Centre on Thursday and Friday and on Wednesday we use the Coffee Mill in John Baker Place. But we have to pay for both of the venues. During the summer we even had to dip into our own pockets to put on activities for the youths who came to us because any funding that we get can only be used on the running of the buildings.

The 36-year-old said that on the days the youth club is not open, police have reported minor anti-social behaviour in the area.

Another issue the group is facing is the John Baker Place redevelopment project.

North Herts District Council (NHDC) and North Hertfordshire Homes have agreed to proceed with a multi-million pound redevelopment of the area. However, this means that over the next two years, while the refurbishment work is being carried out, the group may not be able to operate from the community centre due to health and safety regulations.

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Chairman of CAYPOW, Joan Kirby, said: “The group does struggle to keep it open and does need as much support as it can get. They are a great asset to the Westmill area and it would be a massive loss if they ever had to close.”

Carla and two volunteers were given £750 from NHDC’s Hitchin Committee, which was also matched by another funder, however, Carla said: “This will see us through for a few months but then we will be back to square one. We are at the point where it is not possible to plan ahead.”