A Melton youth club which is attended by more than 60 youngsters aged from eight to 17 has called on parents to help attract the funding which will keep it going.
Organisers of The Venue were ‘devastated’ to hear that the Big Lottery had decided not to continue contributing the thousands of pounds required to support sessions at Phoenix House on Nottingham Road.
It was feared the club may have to close in a matter of weeks but Melton Learning Hub, which manages it, says it has been negotiating with the lottery to re-submit a bid.
Representatives are to visit The Venue for more information and the hub has called on parents to write letters of support to convey how important the sessions are for young people in the town.
Hub centre manager Sarah Cox told the Melton Times: “When we got the news that our bid for lottery funding had failed it was devastating.
“But we got in touch with them the same day and they are sending someone out to see us in early March.
“The directors have come up with a contingency plan and we are looking to raise £6,000 to keep us going in the short term.
“It would really help if parents could write letters to us to show how much The Venue means to their children so we cann hopefully get the funding when we re-submit our bid.”
The Venue was launched in 2015 to provide activities, entertainment and a safe space for young people to meet and make friends.
Over 30 children aged eight to 13 meet from 4pm to 6pm on Thursdays and the same number of youngsters aged 12 to 17 congregate on Thursday and Friday evenings.
As well as the weekly sessions, the club hosts a number of youth support services and events, such as meetings with police officers and drink and drug awareness initiatives. There are also one-to-one sessions with youth and social workers and mentoring opportunities.
Ms Cox added: “We don’t want to lose what has built up at The Venue.
“We have so many children and teenagers from John Ferneley College and Long Field Academy which is brilliant and we want to open it up to young people out in the villages.
“We have access to a minibus through our links with Voluntary Action Melton and we really want to give children in rural areas the chance to come to sessions because they can feel isolated.”
Organisers would be delighted if any businesses or organisations could contribute cash to help keep the sessions going.
Parents and other residents can also help by buying tickets for the Melton Community Lottery and naming The Venue as the beneficiary for funds.
Anthony Marvin, the manager at The Venue, says the sessions are a lifeline for young people in the town, many of whom are from low income families who cannot afford to pay for them to do other activities.
He said: “We are talking about more than 60 youngsters and it would be terrible if they had nowhere to go after school.
“The children were distraught when they heard about the funding and the parents are very upset too.”
As well as the social side, the club provides healthy meals for members, using food provided through the Fareshare scheme where supermarkets donate products which are approaching their sell-by-date.
Anthony regularly cooks meals at The Venue himself, as well as making milkshakes for the youngsters.
He said: “We have some young people from low income families and the meal we give them is one of the few healthy ones they might get that week.
“We often send some of them home at the end of the night with a bag of food depending on what we have in that day.
“They always leave us with a full belly and a smile on their faces so it would be such a shame if this all stopped.”
He added: “We are still open at the moment and we just hope someone can come forward to help with funding to keep us going.”
Parents have registered their concerns about The Venue’s future on the club’s Facebook page.
Krystyna Munday wrote: “This is a great shame as it’s the only place the kids can go and be safe. My daughters will be sad not to attend anymore.”
Paul Saxby commented: “This is very sad news. The council and local community should do what is necessary to save this facility.”
Parents who would like to write letters of support for the The Venue should write to organisers at Phoenix House, Nottingham Road, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire LE13 0UL.
Go to www.meltonlottery.co.uk if you would like to buy a ticket in support of the youth club.