Sunday 14 July 2024
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Nottingham

Nottingham youth club faces closure due to council financial changes

Base 51, a charity that provides vital support to 11-25 year olds in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, says it needs to relocate because of ‘insurmountable’ financial changes made by Nottingham City Council.

Base 51, a youth charity which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, moved from its premises on Glasshouse Street behind the Victoria Centre into its current building on Castle Gate in 2012.

The Caste Gate Base 51 building is owned by the city council after they successfully secured funding from a fund called the ‘MyPlace’ programme.

The programme was launched in 2008 when the Government awarded grants of between £1 million and £5 million to Councils for the development of world-class youth centres in some of the most deprived areas of England – Nottingham City Council was able to purchase the building with the grant, and agreed to lease it to the organisation to run services from for 20 years, Base 51 as a partner throughout the process took on the position of the lead provider.

From its centre on Castle Gate, Base 51 has continued its charitable aims to support 11-25-year-olds from the City and County – their goal is to provide a ‘safe place where change begins’ for young people in need.

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The charity focuses on early intervention and they offer counselling, specialist trauma support (including exploitation, violent crime, modern slavery and sexual abuse), an LGBTQIA+ peer support group and a youth club with a dance studio and a music recording studio.

They also provide practical support with a kitchen, food parcels, gym, showers, laundry and a clothes bank – from October to December last year they provided over 400 meals to young people that visited their centre.

Over the last decade, the council has been steadily cutting funding to youth provisions across the city, and in early 2022 they withdrew all of their funding from Base 51, leaving the city’s vulnerable young people potentially at risk due to lack of services. The charity worked hard to fill the gap with corporate supporters and grants and entered 2023 in a strong position with its team supporting over 1000 young people throughout the year.

However, in January 2023 the charity received the distressing news that the Council may be going back on their assurances from May 2022 that Base 51 could access its £150,000 ‘sinking fund’ (funds put aside by the charity to maintain the building) to cover the increasing building bills and upkeep, leaving the charity once again in an exceptionally difficult position, including now looking into the relocation of their services.

Peter Morley, Chair of the Board of Trustees said:

“It is devastating to be considering leaving the amazing NGY building, which has been a safe place for the city’s young people for just over 10 years.

“This would result in the removal of fabulous facilities for young people, including a gym, recording studio, dance studio, café and a counselling suite; all in a beautiful state-of-the-art building.

“It would be a travesty for all of this to be lost if the reason is that the Council is seeking to sell the facility to cover the holes in its finances.

“Whilst the council has offered vague assurance that this is not the case, the council would not be able to continue to provide access for young people to the facilities, without an annual investment of revenue.

In that case, the council has always expressed its satisfaction with Base 51’s provision at NGY, so I cannot understand why they would not continue to fund Base 51 to go on with that provision.”

There are over 17,500 children living in poverty in Nottingham, 54 of the city wards rank in the top 10% of the most deprived in the country and the city is 6th worst out of 340 areas in the ONS Health Index, Nottingham also ranks the worst city in the UK for young people (Youth Opportunities Index) – and with the ongoing cost of living crisis, the situation is becoming worse for many young people, so the work of charities like Base 51 is indispensable.

Due to these financial changes, the charity may have to make changes to its Universal Provision, which includes its Youth Club.

The Youth Club currently runs Monday, Thursday and Friday and provides a safe place for young people to come after school and to receive a hot meal (many do not receive enough if any, food at home).

The charity is running a Crowdfunder to help with the costs, you can find details on their website.

Without the Youth Club those young people will be forced to hang out on the streets, where they are exceptionally vulnerable to crime, exploitation and violence. As a charity that works hard to protect young people, this is a bleak thought for the charity’s CEO, Jo Jepson

Jo said:

“Due to insurmountable financial challenges imposed on us by Nottingham City Council Base 51 may need to secure other premises, our priority at this time is to continue to offer a safe place for some of the City’s most vulnerable young people, whilst our charity continues to deliver the high-quality provision we’ve been known for over the past 30 years.

“We hope that over the coming weeks, we can find a positive solution and a way forwards so that we can ensure that young people have somewhere to go and someone to talk to, in times of crisis and need”.

The Castle Gate building is also home to Take One School, an alternative provision school for young people aged 14 – 16 who are no longer in mainstream education and are looking to gain fundamental qualifications, and the Youth Justice Service which supervises those referred by the Court or Police on a statutory basis, or those that have been referred to work with early intervention services on a voluntary basis.

Base 51 is looking to continue to offer its services from a new location in the city, providing vital support to young people in need in the city and county.

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