Youth café saved by £400k funding

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A YOUTH venue that was threatened with closure has been saved after more than £400,000 was pledged to its future.

The Meet Up Cafe, on the Redcastle Estate, in Thetford, faced an uncertain future after funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government ran out in April.

But on Wednesday, a bid for funding from The Big Lottery Fund came through and the cafe’s future was secured for the next three years.

Terry Jermy, café manager, said the money would give some much-needed continuity to Thetford’s initiative-starved youth services.

“The biggest thing about the money is that it is for three years. If it was for 12 months it would have been a bit of breathing space but we wouldn’t have been able to make many plans for the future. Now we have an opportunity to make a difference.

“We have the highest percentage of young people in Norfolk and we have lots of issues that affect them.”

Mr Jermy also praised the bid put forward by the Benjamin Foundation, which runs the café.

Sharon Matthews, operational manager for the Benjamin Foundation, said: “The team at Thetford have worked hard to establish a really vibrant and valuable community presence so it’s brilliant to know we can continue our work there and build on what we’ve already achieved.

“Our first 12 months have proved our approach works and now, thanks to The Big Lottery Fund, we can continue to work with the fantastic young people of Thetford and ensure the positive impacts are truly embedded in the community for generations to come.”

The café, which launched in 2009, will now be able to continue employing two full-time staff, one 30 hour a week member of staff and a pool of part-time staff.

The club runs activities including homework clubs, computer classes and cooking sessions.