New Year funding crisis looms

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Young people in disadvantaged areas of Londonderry are in danger of being left high and dry due to cutbacks in community funding it was claimed this week.

Community workers in the city are facing a bleak mid-winter as they try to find alternative funding sources following recent government cuts, which sliced tens of thousands of pounds off their budgets.

Groups in disadvantaged areas that work with young people and offer support to small community organisations, including Cathedral youth Club and Waterside Area Partnership, have been put on 90 days notice that they will no longer receive financial help from the public purse. The funding crisis will force them to close, resulting not only in job losses, but leaving the most vulnerable in society among the hardest hit, they say.

Appealing directly to the government not to leave young people in The Fountain high and dry, community worker Jeanette Warke, she was doing everything she could to the find resources to keep Cathedral youth Club open after March 31.

“I am hopefully meeting with north west development officer Ian Snowdon soon, and other people to find out what this all means for us at The Fountain. I have worked hard to ensure that we are delivering on the ground at the youth club and I am praying we are ok,” said Jeanette.

“We are on 90 days notice. It is worrying, but we are just going to have to wait and see what happens. Losing funding like with will be devastating for community groups. It leaves you thinking about all the young people that will be left high and dry. They cannot just walk away and leave young people and community groups high and dry. I am begging them not to.”

Waterside Area partnership, meanwhile, face losing four posts, forcing the organisation to fold. One member of staff was appointed just prior to the group discovering they will no longer have jobs after the end of March - unless a new funding stream can be secured.

Manager Drew Thompson said the organisation had funding up to March 31, but would not receive funding from the government after that.

“We are talking about £50,000 and it will mean we will probably have to shut up shop unless we get more money. The Board has decisions to make within the next couple of weeks, but at the moment we are looking to see if there is any funding out there, but it is very, very difficult. There is very little out there,” he said.

Without funding, Mr Thompson said the myriad of small groups which were supported by WAP would flounder.