Huntingdonshire Community Group at risk of closure, says chairman

A HUNTINGDONSHIRE group credited with reducing crime through its work with ethic minorities faces an uncertain future because of funding cuts, says its chairman.

A shortfall in income has meant Huntingdonshire Community Group has lost its permanent office in the Medway Centre, but fears are that the group’s English and IT courses will also not be able to continue after July.

The group was set up in 2007 to help people from other cultures integrate more into the local community and improve their job prospects.

It has so far helped more than 100 people from Uganda, Poland, Latvia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, but Patrick Kadewere, group chairman, says a series of rejected grant applications has left the group out-of-pocket.

It currently owes �1,300 in rent arrears to Huntingdon Town Council and is awaiting news on a funding application to the county council to learn if new English and IT courses will be possible from September.

Fortunately, social housing landlord Luminus has provided the group with a desk free-of-charge at their Maple Centre office, and members are able to use computers at the centre for classes.

Founder member Mr Kadewere said: “It is very difficult at the moment. We do not know what is going to happen. We do not know whether they want us to close down or they want us to carry on.

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“We have helped lots of different people, and not just people from outside the country. We help everybody really. Everybody who comes to the group gets help.

“Most of the people we see were afraid to talk to the police. In their countries the police don’t go by the book. The UK police does.

“When they come here, they think they are being discriminated against, but it is no longer an issue now, and it helps neighbours to know each other.”

Mr Kadewere fears withoutthe group, crime and anti-social behaviour could soar, and vulnerable families could be left without access to services.

“The result will be people will get back to the same poverty. This was like an educational thing for people and it was reducing crime as well.

“If people do not receive all the information they were getting and all these workshops, it will be difficult not only for the group, but for the authorities as well. The authorities will have to put more money into making sure they are assisting people.”

Funding for the Unity in Community event due to take place in July organised by the group has been secured, and Sunday afternoon activities for children continue at the Medway Centre, though parents are currently being charged �2 for entry to cover the hall hire.

A county council spokesman said: “We gave Huntingdonshire Community Group a one-off payment through the Voice Your Choice project to set up their office, but it was up to them to fundraise to pay the rent. We have supported them with other projects including Unity in the Community.

“No decision on courses has yet been made.”

A Luminus spokesman said: “Luminus is fully supportive of the great work that Huntingdon Community Group does to help people from different ethnic groups settle happily in our communities.

“Following the group’s recent funding cuts, Luminus has provided them with space in their office at the Maple Centre in Huntingdon.”

nINFORMATION: Huntingdonshire Community Group’s annual general meeting will take place Sunday at the Medway Centre at 5pm. All are welcome.