A lifeline for young people in Budleigh Salterton has been promised £5,000 by the town council to help safeguard its future.
Budleigh Community Youth Project needs to find £31,000 to buy the Venture Hall, in Moor Lane, so youngsters can ‘thrive and develop as active and responsible members of their local community’.
Budleigh’s mayor said the town should give a ‘substantial’ sum, saying it was the first time the council had helped the youth group financially since it began in 2008.
Cllr Caz Sismore-Hunt said: “£50 is not going to work on this. They need big money.
“I will be quite truthful, when this came up a few years ago I wasn’t its greatest fan.
“But it’s proved itself and it’s an asset to the town.”
District councillor Tom Wright, a Budleigh Community Youth Project trustee, thanked Budleigh council for its support.
He said: “I have been managing the youth cub since it started and we are getting, regularly, 30-odd kids and for some of them it’s their only safe place where they can meet their friends, and chill out, and do what kids do – and you can’t put too much value on that.
“Your contribution will go a long way to maintaining and securing that building for the youth club and all the other community groups who use it as well, and benefit from it.”
The Budleigh Community Youth Project gives children aged 12 to17 a place to meet their friends under the supervision of trained youth workers.
The youth club supports young people living in Budleigh who attend Exmouth Community College, Sidmouth College and Colyton Grammar School.
Budleigh town council heard how the project helped ‘some quite challenging young people’.
Young people attending the weekly Thursday two-and-a-half-hour sessions can take part in a range of activities, such as learning to cook, first aid training and group games.
Youth workers supervise and support the members, organising discussions around keeping safe, internet awareness, substance awareness and preparing for the future and adulthood.
In addition to the youth club, the Venture Hall hosts two Brownie groups, one Guide group, Beaver and Cubs, a weekly drop-in café, art classes, yoga for adults and children, clairvoyance sessions and private functions.
Cllr Megan Kenneally-Stone said Budleigh’s community groups ‘wouldn’t be able to function’ if the Venture Hall was lost to the town.
She said: “In Budleigh, while a lot of our families have comfortable lives, there’s quite a large pocket of families that don’t.
“But because of the community we are in, it’s those young people and families that miss out.”
She added: “The time I have been on this council, we haven’t been asked for a huge commitment that benefits the community in this way.
“This is going to benefit quite a huge portion of the community.”
Cllr Roger Sherriff said: “All those young people that are involved, they have got an opportunity to go somewhere and do something, and be part of something, rather than sit around causing trouble.
“It will be for the benefit of everyone, not just the young people.”
The youth project aims to keep building hire low so other clubs can continue, although the income stream does not generate large sums of money when offset against mortgage repayments and maintenance costs.
The trustees said the building could be a ‘fantastic resource’ for future generations, if it was in full ownership of Budleigh Community Youth Project Trust.
Youth project trustee, county councillor Christine Channon, said the Venture Hall was put on the market 11 years ago when it was jointly owned by a ‘strange marriage’ of the Royal British Legion (RBL) and Exmouth Girl Guiding.
She said a county council grant from the sale of Exeter Airport contributed ‘slightly more than half’ to the £150,000 purchase price of the property when the RBL sold off its assets, nationally.
The youth project’s Venture Hall mortgage of £75,000 had been reduced to £45,000 over the past decade, said Cllr Channon.
Now the Budleigh Community Youth Project aims to take full ownership of the Venture Hall from Exmouth Girl Guides.
The trustees have already secured around £14,000 of funding through an appeal.
The idea for Budleigh’s youth club grew out of an idea started in 2007 when a group of the town’s teenagers teamed up with then-Budleigh police officer Kim Chapman to set up a twice-weekly club to keep youths off the streets in the evening.