Funding cut threatens young people’s Haven

HUNDREDS of disadvantaged teenagers could be turned back onto the streets after an award-winning youth club has had its funding cut

Ben McPartland

HUNDREDS of disadvantaged teenagers could be turned back onto the streets after an award-winning youth club has had its funding cut.

The Haven Youth Centre, a youth club run by the Castlehaven Community Association (CCA) in the heart of Camden Town, is now under threat of closure after Camden Council reduced its investment in services.

Staff members may lose their jobs as well, since the youth club has only managed to get its hands on £24,000 compared to the £52,000 it was given last year.

The council thinks the money would be better spent on other youth projects around the borough.

CCA director Eleanor Botwright has been saddened by the council's decision.

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"We are hoping councillors put their hands up and say 'we know we have made a mistake'. It doesn't seem as if the right hand of the council knows what its left hand is doing," she said.

"This decision is very short-sighted. Our services do not cost the council very much - a few thousand pounds - but are being cut in half, which threatens the very existence of our youth club."

Each year Castlehaven goes up against other youth projects in a fight to secure as much funding as possible from the council's limited supplies.

Each centre has to present its own case for why it should receive its share of the cash, meaning the competition is tough and inevitably some vital projects lose out.

The Haven Youth Centre is used by more than 300 teenagers, many of whom come to rely on it for a safe place to meet and hang out.

It offers troubled teenagers and their families help, advice and support and has hosted events such as anti-knife workshops in a bid to tackle crime and youth disorder.

Around a third of the residents living around Castlehaven are under 19 years old, and the centre caters for young people living in some of the most deprived areas of the borough.

Ms Botwright said: "We provide vital services for our young people and community. These meet a vast range of objectives that the council wants us to do and they've said we are doing a fantastic job. In fact we are saving the council money in the long term as we keep young people on track and in some cases help with some really challenging kids."

A spokeswoman for Camden Council said no funding had been cut and each application had been reviewed on its individual merits. She added: "The council's Youth Offending and Youth and Connexions service has an available funding pot for this financial year of £450,000.

"However, it received funding applications from 22 groups, which in total applied for £937,631 - nearly half a million pounds more than was available.

"It is always extremely difficult deciding which groups receive funding and how much each group receives. This has become increasingly difficult due to the national drive for increased accountability in youth services.

"However, Castlehaven Community Association has received £163,130 funding from the Children's Schools and Families service."