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Youth centres’ plea to keep SIC funding

Scalloway Youth Centre, which opened in 1996, will close if the SIC stops funding youth centres. Photo Peter Johnson Partnership

SHETLAND’S youth clubs have been warned they will have to close their doors if the local authority goes ahead with its plan to stop funding them next year.

Three local youth clubs attended a meeting on Thursday evening to give voice to their fears for the future.

Representatives from Scalloway, Sandwick and Whalsay said they had managed to swallow a 25 per cent funding cut two years ago by upping their membership fees and hire charges and carrying out a fundraising drive.

However they said there was no way they could survive if the SIC removed the £11,000 it gives to Scalloway and Sandwick, and the £7,000 that goes to Whalsay to cover running costs.

Other voluntary groups, including sports clubs, will also be affected by the cuts, which will hit organisations with responsibility for buildings and land, such as sports pitches, particularly hard.

Sonia Inkster pointed out that Scalloway, which has activities going on every night of the week, managed to raise £54,000 in outside grants in the past couple of years, but that only paid for project costs.

However if the 19 year old Scalloway youth centre closed its doors then there would be nowhere to run such projects, and nowhere for local young people to go.

“If the council goes ahead with these cuts, the impact will be huge and there will be nothing left for young folk to do in most communities,” Inkster said.

Last year the council deferred a decision to stop the grant scheme that helped youth groups.

The subject will come up for debate once more on 8 October when the SIC’s development committee meets.

Inkster said she hoped councillors and officials would find a way to keep the centres open.

“What we want them to realise is that every pound from the council goes much further when it goes to the voluntary sector,” she said.

However life has been made more difficult after Shetland Charitable Trust said it would be withdrawing the substantial funding it injects to the council’s support grants scheme.

Scalloway will face an added difficulty when it loses the pre-school children next year when they move into the village’s new primary school.

The Sandwick youth and community centre is the base for a multitude of local activities on behalf of the whole of the south mainland that would find it hard to find alternative premises, the centre’s management committee said.

If the council cuts its funding the centre will close, they added.

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