Youth centre faces closure

TEENAGERS are today facing up to the possible loss of their youth centre – unless £70,000 a year can be found to keep it going.Level2 at Felixstowe was set up with lottery cash and provides a wide variety of services for the resort's young people, including advice, counselling and practical help and support.

By Richard Cornwell

TEENAGERS are today facing up to the possible loss of their youth centre – unless £70,000 a year can be found to keep it going.

Level2 at Felixstowe was set up with lottery cash and provides a wide variety of services for the resort's young people, including advice, counselling and practical help and support.

More than 300 different young people are using its services every week and the trustees and youth workers are thrilled with the way it has taken off.

But the cash from the lottery is starting to run out, and major grants need to be found to keep it running.

"People are very supportive and we have had lots of small grants," said Rev Paul Beetham, one of the trustees of Level2.

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"But we have a critical need for a large grant each year to make the centre financially secure. Just to maintain it and keep it running we need to raise £70,000 each year.

"The original grant was given us to cover set up costs and a period of time and is set to run out next May.

"We may be able to stretch it further and keep going to September, but we cannot go beyond that.

"It has been hugely successful – one of the most successful and busy such schemes in the country. We have more than 300 different young people a week using it and there is a tremendous need for it.

"It would be terrible if we lost it, but we are scratching our heads over what we can do to raise the money."

Level2 was set up thanks to a £180,000 lottery grant from the Community Fund. It is house in a former office suite above Tesco in Hamilton Road, overlooking The Triangle.

It features a coffee bar and meeting place, somewhere the youngsters can relax and call their own, chat, play pool, table soccer, browse the internet, or sit and read, chill out, a "safe friendly and confidential place".

But it is also a place where they can access all the services open to young people, meet youth workers, discuss problems, receive counselling, do their homework in peace, get advice on jobs and training, money, legal matters and health.

The centre aims to help anyone from ten years old to 24, but the core target age is 13s to 19s.

Support for the youngsters has included dealing with a range of teenage problems, including drugs, alcohol, bullying, school troubles, and sexual health. Felixstowe has one of the highest rates for teenage pregnancies and youth workers have been helping youngsters deal with this issue. They have also given life skills training, helping youngsters to look after themselves.

The trustees are reapplying to the Community Fund to see if further help can be given, and also approaching other major grant and sponsorship-giving bodies.

Euro MP Richard Howitt has also pledged to investigate various possible funding sources.

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