Facelift for Chichester youth club despite cash cuts

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Chichester’s oldest youth club has undergone a major refurbishment, and has vowed to carry on despite suffering huge cuts in funding.

There is a wave of optimism at the Chichester Boys Club, with new buildings opened and in use at its Little London site.

This is in the face of having its funding cut from West Sussex County Council for its youth workers, who at the moment are giving their time for free at the 90-year-old club.

The club had a £32,000 grant from WSCC, which paid for five members of staff a year.

The cut means the number of evenings it is open a week have been reduced to two, but it is hoped it can be fully utilised during the day, with bookings being taken for clubs and organisations to use the new multi-purpose rooms.

Chairman of the management committee at the club, Dr Richard Hancock said: “They were so upset by the cuts they want to give their own time and do it for nothing so there is continuity for the young people.

“The management committee was gobsmacked really, they have all got other jobs, but still said they wanted to come and work here.

“How long they will do it, and how it will work, we have just got to see.

“We are going to be reliant on the big society.

Dr Hancock added: “We will start by making sure they are not out of pocket, we will give them a helping hand with their expenses.

“We have suffered the cuts, but we are going to remain positive.

“Because we own the building, all they could really take away was the running costs.”

One of the new buildings, which has been specially designed for art sessions, and a music area, will be named the Mike Ayling Wing in memory of Mr Ayling who was responsible for arranging the funding for the refurbishments before his death in March 2010.

The original plan was for the gym to be replaced with a shop front, and the rental income used to supplement the running of the club.

But the idea was scrapped in the face of the economic situation. The courtyard between the two new buildings has been resurfaced, and a soil area may be used to grow vegetables.

The reception area was given a facelift, and the entrance area extended by several feet to make room for a disabled toilet.