Fresh funding hopes for Huntingdon’s Fusion activity scheme

YOUTH leaders have said they feel optimistic about the future of a Huntingdon-based holiday activity scheme six months after its core funding was axed.

The Fusion scheme was running again last week during half-term with a Hallowe’en-themed activity day that attracted more than 50 youngsters to Huntingdon Youth Centre on Friday, part of a week-long series of events.

Activities are also run in February, at Easter and throughout the summer, when around 400 children, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, take part in the free sessions.

Supporters say the scheme is responsible for a dramatic drop in anti-social behaviour and petty crime locally.

But Government cuts earlier this year meant Fusion was in danger of folding. An 11th-hour funding deal enabled the scheme to go ahead for last summer and this month.

A �10,000 grant has been provided by Alconbury Airfield developers Urban and Civic, and the Hinchingbrooke Foundation for the next two years, and a �22,500 bid has been submitted to the Cambridgeshire County Council Transformation Fund for a part-time co-ordinator to run the scheme.

But a further �13,500 is needed to fund the activity scheme in February and next summer.

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Youth development co-ordinator Kerrie Tonks said: “Fusion is secure for one-and-a-half weeks out of four in the summer. We also need �3,500 to properly open for the February half-term week.

“We still need a big push, which is why we are hoping that we can get the money [from the Transformation Fund] and start work straight away.

“Fusion was always organised and run by our staff, but technically they shouldn’t be doing that now. Having somebody who is part-time and can focus on Fusion, means we can develop a group of adult volunteers so we can reduce the staffing costs.

“That worker will also make funding bids. They could be lucky and get �50,000 straight away or get repeatable money. The �22,500 will also cover admin costs – membership forms, equipment and phone calls home to parents.”

A decision will be made on the Transformation Fund bid this month, but hopes are also high Fusion will be eligible for more grants now the management committee has become a voluntary organisation.

The committee, comprised of members of local authorities, Huntingdon Community Safety Partnership and youth charity Natural High, will oversee the overall direction of the scheme.

Ideas will be fed from the Fusion young persons’ committee to the management committee, which will include a young person representative.

Ms Tonks added: “The management committee will do the strategic stuff, raising the money and making all the planning, but young people will be more involved than they were.

“They are not going to be reliant on the county council – which might be subject to further cuts.”