In this article we are writing to inform you of some important changes in relation to the youth project and more specifically, The Mess Youth Centre. On-the-Edge, having run for nearly 14 years has primarily been funded through local churches, individuals and one-off grants or events. Recently we have seen the end of some larger financial income and as such have had to look hard at the priorities of the project.
Therefore, a decision was made by our Trustees at our last meeting that, with reluctance, the project can no longer justify renting the premises for The Mess full-time as of 1st April 2020. Funds are limited and by giving up permanent tenancy of The Mess we have been able to free up some money to ensure the project can continue for a bit longer. Despite this decision, there is a short term solution in that the current owners of the premises are very kindly willing to let us rent the space on a per-session basis - so for the Summer Term, not much will change in terms of the sessions on offer.
What happens now? We will continue to use the space as normal until the end of this term, but we will then have to start clearing out/selling our non-essential items and equipment as we will have limited space for storage come 1st April. We will be arranging a few open days where we will sell off or give away (for a small donation) the different pieces we can no longer keep.
What happens next? As well as preparing for life without a permanent space, we will be starting to consult with the different groups of young people about what the project could look like come September. We have started to introduce different groups for Year 7 upwards including Drama and Table Tennis and do have plans for more. It may be that young people want more groups like these or that they would like a larger youth group once a week in Jubilee hall. They will have some say in what shape the project will take. Although it is sad that we are losing such a great asset, it does open up new opportunities to develop the project in a new, positive way.
Is this the beginning of the end? We hope not, but, we are not going to hide the fact that we are in a financial crisis as a project. The life of the project is at threat even more than in recent years. Now, with large grants being even harder to come by and the reduction in individual giving our funds look to be reaching their limit. As a project we are looking at ways of streamlining some of the work we do in order to save money, however, this will only do so much as we look to continue our positive engagement with young people week in, week out. There is still so much potential for growth in and around Chagford and so many young people who want to get involved in various activities. We don’t want to let them down.
How can I help? At this point, we are not looking to ‘save The Mess’, but in order for the youth work to continue, wherever it is held, we desperately need more regular donors and one-off financial gifts. Sadly, without community engagement and support, something that has become a continual presence in the community and amongst young people will be gone.