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Council to fund The Unit
A POPULAR youth project that has struggled to secure funding has passed the first hurdle to save it from closure.
On Monday, members of Salisbury City Council’s services committee voted in favour of the council taking over the running of The Unit, based in Endless Street in Salisbury.
Director Ruth Jones notified the council last month that she could no longer run the service and it would have to close at the end of September if another arrangement could not be found.
The service offers teenagers opportunities to get involved with volunteering and organising projects and events and gives them a say in local issues as well as somewhere to find out about art and cultural activities and jobs and training.
Since it was set up in 2009 it has proved very popular with the local community, but Ms Jones said although specific fundraising projects are well supported, finding the funds for overheads such as rent has always proved difficult.
“I set it up in 2009 during the fanfare of Big Society and at the time I thought there would be more sustainable funding,” she said.
“Projects get lots of community support but in terms of running an organisation that deals with young people responsibly it just got too much.
“Rent, a paid project manager, child protection, making sure there’s insurance, that’s the hardest thing to fundraise for. It has been very much a hand to mouth fundraising job behind the scenes.”
Salisbury Youth Venture is a registered charity that supports The Unit by raising funds for projects, but as the charity is unincorporated it cannot take over the legal responsibility of running the service.
The council’s services committee has approved taking on the management of The Unit’s budget for the rest of the financial year and will manage and fund the project over the 2014/15 financial year along with Youth Venture.
The decision will now go to the council’s policy and resources committee for final approval.
It is hoped that in the long-term the Salisbury Youth Partnership, an informal partnership of organisations working to meet the needs of young people in the city, will develop a bid for a three-year funding regime through projects such as the Big Lottery Fund.
Ms Jones said: “It’s been tricky, trying not alarm the young people that it might close but I feel quite optimistic about its future. I’ll be really sad to leave, but it’s time to do that now.”
She thanked all those who have been involved in making the project a success.
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