Funding withdrawal forces well-loved community centres to close with immediate effect

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Local authority withdrew vital revenue

A valuable centre for autistic children, teenagers and young adults in Havering has been told to shut down immediately after the local authority withdrew vital funding.

The east London charity ‘Sycamore Trust UK’ had been providing youth clubs and activities for children and young people with autism and adults with learning difficulties were this week told that their funding is to be slashed and two youth projects will be closed.

The two projects set to close are the Yew Tree Club in Romford which helps young people aged 13 – 18 and the Royals Club in Rainham which helps even younger children aged from 8-13.

A parent whose teenage son attends the Yew Tree Club said: “It is a challenge for my son during the daytime to be normal, they have to conform at school and other such surroundings but at the club they could be who they are without being judged.

“They can be themselves without people pointing the finger at them or being singled out for who they are. It is how others see them that is the problem and at the club, they are themselves, it is place where there is no loud music, a place they can cope with”.

Skills

“The club is like being at home for them, the closure is a big loss for us, they have learnt some very important life skills there and have learnt skills.”

The London Borough of Havering have changed the criteria used to determine which children receive support and the end result is that almost all the children who attend the clubs no longer qualify for help, despite some of them having an EHC plan, which assist people up to the age of 25 with their needs.

The youth clubs help young adults to become more productive members of society as they get older, as opposed to requiring further, more expensive care from the local authority.

by FRAN LILLEYSTONE

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