North East Wales

Wrexham play venture fears closure over funding

Children and youth worker at the Venture

A play scheme in one of north Wales' most deprived areas fears it faces closure unless funding can be found.

The Venture has supported youngsters in the Caia Park in Wrexham for more than 30 years, playing a part in cutting youth crime in the area.

But it has been told that Communities First cash from the Welsh Government is only guaranteed until June.

It follows a move to reconsider the future of the anti-poverty scheme, but no final decision has been made.

"It's such an important part of so many people's lives. It is extremely worrying," said the Venture's co-founder and manager, Malcolm King.

"We've built up a reputation nationally and internationally for the work we've done and we've achieved results that pretty much no-one else has ever achieved, in terms of reducing crime and reducing young people failing at school."

Since it opened in 1978, the Venture has seen thousands of young people pass through its gates for after school play, homework clubs and reading groups.

It also runs early years groups as part of the Flying Start Welsh Government programme as well as accommodating jobs clubs for adults.

It has faced closure before - when council funding was cut as part of the authority's overall budget savings in 2013. But it remained with 60% of its £310,000 annual budget coming from the Communities First funding.

Youth worker Jodie Humphreys grew up on the estate and like virtually every child that attended the Venture, she went on to college - and in her case - university.

"It made me feel really resilient - it gave me the confidence I needed," she said.

"I want to give that back to theses children of today. I want to see them do well and make a difference, and we'll keep that legacy going - hopefully."

The Welsh Government said it was still seeking views on how to engage with and strengthen communities as it considers phasing out the Communities First scheme.

The government added it was unable to set out funding for 2017-18 until a final decision on the future of the Communities First programme was taken.

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