A SUMMER holiday activity scheme aimed at vulnerable youngsters has been saved from closure thanks to an 11th hour funding deal.

Huntingdon-based holiday activity scheme Fusion had looked set to fold after Cambridgeshire County Council pulled its annual funding due to budget pressures.

Despite valiant efforts to drum up funding, until a month ago, the four week scheme, which is open to young people aged eight to 18 in the Oxmoor area, looked like it was heading for the axe.

But county councillors Laine Kadic and Sir Peter Brown along with Fusion organisers have managed to secure £17,000 from organisations and companies for the scheme which provides activities for nearly 200 youngsters every summer.

Among the contributors are Huntingdon Town Football Club, Arch Motors. Cambridgeshire Police, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Huntingdonshire Community Safety Partnership, Huntingdon Town Council and the Hinchingbrooke Foundation.

Alconbury airfield developers Urban and Civic have also made a three-year pledge to support the scheme.

Cllr Kadic said Fusion has been responsible for curbing anti-social behaviour in the Oxmoor area.

"We know that during the event locally we see a huge decrease in anti-social behaviour because we are giving people something positive and constructive to do.

"I went in there and gave some of the youngsters pieces of paper, and asked them 'What would you be doing if you weren't here?' They said causing trouble, hanging round the streets.

"This gives them something to do. It gives them friends and they learn new skills. All sorts of things go on at Fusion. A lot of them tend to stay there and go year after year. Eventually they become orange shirts and help to look after the new intake."

Rebecca Britton of Urban and Civic said: "They had an immediate need this year and we gave them some funding, but we are keen to develop a partnership with them over the next three years.

"They are a fantastic bunch of people doing amazing things. You can tell that because there are literally hundreds that go there, and we want to support something that is making a real difference. We see it as part of the long-term partnership with the area."

The scheme, based at Huntingdon Youth Centre, provides a range of activities including self-defence, arts and crafts and sport, and attracts up to 150 youngsters a day.

This year it has dropped from five to four days a week, and a further £5,000 is needed to cover costs.

But Cllr Kadic is determined to find the remaining funds and get the scheme back up to five days a week. She is appealing for more organisations and individuals to offer support.

"I would like to say a huge thank you to the generosity of all the local businesses and local people who have supported us.

"We have shown how the public and private sector working together in partnership can make a real difference to local people, and it has been great to see the generosity and interest in supporting our young people."