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West Somerset youth clubs saved by new deal
YOUTH clubs in West Somerset will reopen within weeks after falling victim to government cuts – thanks to the efforts of a Minehead community group.
Staff from Minehead EYE have been working with clubs after Somerset County Council announced in April it would no longer directly provide youth services.
The decision affected clubs in Minehead, Watchet, Williton, Carhampton, Luxborough and Stogursey.
Funding has been found from youth opportunity funds, housing associations, parish councils and other bodies to keep all six clubs open at least one night a week for another year.
Minehead EYE will employ the youth workers and oversee the clubs, alongside parish and town councils and committees.
EYE chair Naomi Griffith said: “As the largest youth centre in the area we could not stand by and see these clubs close.
“It certainly won’t be easy but our journey to get Minehead EYE open has taught us to persevere.
“We will be working with the young people to help them to fundraise for their clubs, as well as with the committees and town and parish councils to see how they can get involved.
“We view the future positively and look forward to getting the communities more involved in their youth clubs.
“It is an exciting time for us all.”
Ché Percival, lead youth worker at the Watchet and Stogursey clubs, said: “When we realised we would lose our jobs six months ago because of government cuts, luckily Minehead EYE stepped in and we started working together to find an answer.
“I have been employed by the government as a youth worker for 18 years and now Minehead EYE will employ me and other youth workers.
“Without the EYE, some of these clubs could have shut, which would have caused chaos.
“Watchet youth club in particular is going brilliantly and is vital to kids in the town – not only does it give them something to do, it teaches them life skills and boosts their self-esteem.
“The new partnership with Minehead EYE is brilliant news and it is hoped we can find a way to keep these clubs going beyond the next year. They are such important parts of their communities.”