Tuesday, 14 August 2007
Youth centre under threat
A popular counselling service for young people could be forced to close when its Lottery funding ends.The Information shop for Young People, in Market Avenue, Ashton under Lyne, is fighting to secure its future before the money runs just after Christmas.The shop is the only place of its kind in Tameside providing a range of support services for 13 to 25 year olds.The main project at the shop is People Understanding Lifestyles, Sex and Emotions (PULSE), which provides a range of counselling, anger management and self harm and eating distress support.The shop, which has been running since 1996, has applied for further funding from the National Lottery, but only has a one in five chance of the bid being successful.Service users and staff now fear for the future and considering what they can do to keep the shop going. One 18-year-old girl, who has used the service for three years, said: "I never imagined such a place where there would be so much understanding, care, kindness, comfort and also laughs."They are so friendly, no matter how bad I can be feeling, I will always end up laughing. Their bubbly, outgoing, chirpy personalities make me feel so much more relaxed. I have never seen them without a smile on their face."Stacey Adams, project co-ordinator: "Where will the young people go if we close? We have waiting lists for all of our mental health services at all times. "Our young people's clinic is the busiest in Tameside. When we are open we are very busy and the young people find it a comfortable place to go."The main priorities for the Children and Young People's Strategic Partnership include elements of our core service, mental health and wellbeing, reduction of teenage pregnancy and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. "We have young people who attend our services from across the borough, not just from Ashton under Lyne, and they rely on our services being on offer to them."Last year, around 1,900 young people used the services at the shop. A Big Lottery Fund spokesman said: "The Big Lottery Fund's North West office and the helpline team are on hand to offer advice to groups in the area who are seeking Lottery funding. "Applying for a Lottery funding has become a competitive business and BIG receive a huge volume of applications, which are assessed on their own merit. Funding is always time limited, so we always encourage groups to consider the future of their projects. Groups should not view Lottery funding as a source of long-term income."