Youth group must cut back as funds from county drop

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A YOUTH group in Lee-on-the-Solent says it has run out of cash after its grant from the county council was cut.

Focus Youth Group, run by Lee Residents, has a shortfall of £4,000 after it asked for £13,000 but got only £9,000.

Richard Mackay, from the group, said it may have to run fewer activities for young people each week or open less regularly.

He told The News: ‘If we can’t raise the extra £4,000 we would have to drop some of the sessions.

‘We could either close it for one age group or perhaps not run it every fortnight, or close during holidays.

‘We would have to shut for some period.

‘We could run flat out for nine months and then close the thing completely.’

As reported in The News the club was opened in 2012 and offers sessions from cooking and healthy eating to drugs awareness.

The residents’ association pays Groundwork Solent to run the sessions each week.

It is open in Salisbury Terrace two evenings a week on Mondays from 6.30pm to 8.30pm for 11 to 13-year-olds and Fridays from 7pm to 9pm for 13 to 19-year-olds.

Graham Burgess is the Conservative councillor for Lee ward on the county council. He gave the group cash for renovation work in 2012 and says he will give it further cash this summer.

He said: ‘I will support them in any way I can.

‘I will be giving them a grant after June.

‘We want to keep the Focus Youth Group going.’

But Mr Mackay said he thinks the group did not get all the cash it asked for as the council is looks at underprivileged areas.

He said: ‘It’s probably because they are trying to focus their money on the most deprived areas.’

And he said that while the group did not have a trained member of staff at one point, he believes it met all the general criteria for the grant set out by the county council.

He added: ‘I don’t think we can say there were [things] that we haven’t met.’

The club was opened in 2012 by Gosport’s MP Caroline Dinenage.

It also had help from Bay House School, in Gomer Lane.

Now the group is asking for people to help.

It needs qualified youth workers to run the activities.

The county council faces a reduced budget from government. It says grants cannot be relied upon year-on-year.