Cheers as Alconbury youth club saved from closure

A VILLAGE youth club in danger of closing following drastic funding cuts can now carry on thanks to the efforts of the Alconbury community.

Members were told at the end of last year Alconbury Youth Club would have to fold after �5,000 annual funding from Cambridgeshire County Council was withdrawn, and the club lost its three youth workers following major restructuring within the county council’s youth service.

But a grant of �4,000 from Alconbury Parish Council and money from local businesses now means the club’s future is secure for the next three years.

More than 100 youngsters aged 9 to 16, regularly attend the club which operates once a month from the Memorial Hall.

Set up in 2004 in response to incidents of anti-social behaviour, it is seen as vital for youngsters who would otherwise have nothing to do.

Youth club committee member Jacqui Fairbrass said: “We thought we were going to close. We had no youth workers so we warned the parents and children it was likely that the youth club would have to close, but then we got a lot more youth club parent volunteers coming forward.”

With help from St Ives-based charity Young Lives, the committee formed a business plan, and secured funding from Alconbury and Alconbury Weston parish councils.

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County councillors Sir Peter Brown and Ladic Kadic then approached local businesses for their help.

Among the most generous were Alconbury Airfield developers Urban and Civic, who have offered �3,000 annually for the next three years. SJH Plant Hire and Flex-Able Travel have also provided funding.

The donations have enabled the committee to recruit one youth worker on a private basis, and on Friday youngsters returned for the first meeting following the crisis.

Plans are to hold monthly trips for the older youngsters in addition to the club night. However, to ensure the club continues to run, more volunteers are needed.

Mrs Fairbrass said: “To make it work we absolutely have to have our volunteers. We have got some of the same members, but we also have got new blood.

“It has been very positive and people are coming in with new ideas. It is no longer up to the youth workers and Cambridgeshire County Council, it is our job. It is a local initiative, and if it doesn’t work, that is our fault.”

David Senior, chairman of Alconbury Parish Council, said: “Parish councillors are delighted that the club’s future has been secured. It is a vital community asset for young people in the village and surrounding areas.”

Sir Peter Brown said he hoped to use Alconbury as a model for other youth clubs to follow, such as in Huntingdon where funding cuts have also affected the youth service.

He said: “This is an example of localism in action. Working together is so important if we are to keep local services in local communities.”