Accuro Under 19 Project under threat

Politics / Mon 28th Oct 2013 am31 08:10am


THE Under 19 Project, operated by Hastingwood-based charity Accuro, faces an uncertain future because of a lack of funding which may lead to its closure in March 2014. For the last 13 years the Project has been successfully providing leisure and social activities for children/young people aged 11 to 19 who have a range of disabilities.

The project provides two weekly social clubs, small group activities and outings, a one-to-one befriending service and, when funding has permitted, an annual short break holiday.

Project co-ordinator Gemma Rich said “For more than ten years our project has not only significantly increased the leisure and social opportunities for local young people with a disability but has also assisted many young people in building their self-confidence and independence in developing their social skills and by reducing the social isolation that some of them were experiencing.”

At the heart of the project are the two weekly social clubs that clubs run in Saffron Walden on Monday evenings and on Wednesday evenings in Great Dunmow, from 7pm until 9pm.

The clubs provide the opportunity for young people to meet and socialise with their peers in a safe and supported environment.

The clubs, and indeed the project as a whole, are ideal for young people who may have difficulty accessing mainstream youth services or youth groups and who may need support to access community facilities.

The Under 19 project was set up as a direct response to the needs and wishes of local young people with a disability for more leisure and social opportunities outside of school and separate from their parents and families.

Parents and families also supported the development of the project and have benefitted from the respite that the project has afforded them.

The aim has always been to make it just like any other youth service (club) that a young person would be accessing in their teenage years with the difference being that the project has trained staff with extensive knowledge in supporting people with disabilities.

Accuro staff at the project are assisted by volunteers recruited primarily from local sixth forms and one of the real strengths of the project is the opportunities that this approach generates in encouraging and facilitating interaction between young people both with and without a disability.

Until earlier this year the Accuro Under 19 Project was primarily funded first by a grant from the Big Lottery Fund and then subsequently by the BBC’s Children in Need Appeal.

The latter of these sources of funding ended in May and the project has only been able to continue by calling on some of Accuro’s limited, unrestricted reserves and by the award an emergency grant from Uttlesford District Council and a ‘one-off’ payment from Essex County Council.

This funding will enable the project to continue operating until the end of March next year but so far attempts to secure funding beyond this have been unsuccessful.

Without such funding this successful and much-needed project will close.

Commenting on the financial situation Accuro CEO Arthur Steward said: “Like many organisations in the voluntary sector we are facing significant financial challenges and indeed our Under 19 project is just one of three projects that are under fairly imminent threat.

“Our challenge is obtaining funding at a time when funds from the state are reducing whilst the competition for funds from grant-making bodies is increasing.

“We are however working hard to try to secure funding for all the projects that are under threat of closure – including our under 19 Project the loss of which would have a considerable detrimental effect on a significant group of local young people with a disability.”

As part of its strategy to ensure the continued delivery of its Under 19 Project Accuro is arranging a number of fund-raising events and activities and would really like to hear from anyone with ideas for other fund-raising activities or from people who would be willing to help with the events Accuro is planning.

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