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Public rallies round to save Routes youth centre

AMASSIVE£50,000 has been donated by people in and around Frome to rescue the Routes drop-in centre and youth cafe on Palmer Street.

The youth centre started a desperate campaign for funding last year after it discovered the YMCAcould no longer pay to keep it open.

Now, after an ‘overwhelming’ response to the appeal, the centre has won a stay of execution and YMCAMendip’s board of trustees says it has enough money to remain open for another year.

CEO of YMCA Mendip, Karen Deverell, told Frome Times, “We have been shocked and overwhelmed by the response from local people, and we’re feeling really positive about the next year for Routes.

“People have pledged and donated around £50,000 towards our year one target of £65,000, and we’re still waiting to hear back from some grant applications and organisations.

“This is the first time YMCA Mendip has asked the public to support us on this sort of scale  so it was a total unknown, but the Frome community has responded very generously.”

The centre offers local young people free information, advice and support on issues ranging from homelessness and drug abuse to job interviews, relationships and health.

Lottery funding had been supporting the centre for five years and YMCA Mendip – an independent charity responsible for its own governance and funding – was unable to keep Routes open using its reserves.

“We know the worth of Routes and that it’s an important vessel through which young people access a lot of services,  delivered both by the YMCA and others,”Karen added.

“We will now be looking at how to secure sustainable income so we can keep it  open for as long as the need continues. Local authorities are under huge and increasing financial pressure, and we are grateful to councils for the huge support we get for our other projects.

“Routes has been hit particularly hard by cuts so we need to find new ways to fund it; we will be looking at setting up a ‘Friends of YMCA’ group and hope the local community will continue to support the centre.”

Routes is still in need of thousands of pounds to run successfully. To support the centre’s appeal contact kcollins@mendipymca.org.uk or donations can be made by text to MEND41 £AMOUNT to 70070. You can also donate online at https://my donate.bt.com/events/saveroutes