On visiting this afternoon, we asked staff about the rumours that we had heard about closure. It turns out it had been an intense week at the Chase Neighbourhood Centre in St.Anns.
Much of the good works being conducted there are drawing to a close. Over 30 redundancies, notified at very short notice. Some paid positions and many volunteers. It is uncertain how this came to be, but we hope to provide a little more in-depth reporting of the background to this situation shortly. In the meantime however, suffice to say that urgent help is asked for and needed. It is an iconic building, there in the centre of the community at Robin Hood Chase.
One of the first projects down was the Youth Inclusion Project. An inspiration to those challenged by education, lack of employment opportunities and lack of self-esteem.
Awat Aziz from St.Ann’s said: “I joined the YIP in 2003 and learned how to make cloths, which lead to a voluntary job at Urban Fashion http://www.urbanfashionhouse.co.uk. “I’m running my own business now making tee-shirts. Before I went to the YIP I didn’t know anything about fashion, but now I am able to make my own clothes. I also learned computing”.
Some went on from the advantages that such projects give them, to become a mentor to help and inspire other youngsters. It is obvious when this happens that the whole community can only benefit. It is apparent the projects like YIP are so important in engaging with young people when they have more limited educational opportunities and if they have been excluded.
In addition to youth projects, it is the whole community who are about to suffer with this loss. Mother and baby groups, social groups where people can gather and share their experience, isolation for many is about to get more extreme. There is / was a large computing suite, this being so useful to get folks more skilled and hence employable. It seems such community provision has been so much more effective than anything the job centre had been able to offer to the unemployed.
In an area of deprivation, it was great to see efforts of so many people to engage and assist each other in life in general. A sense of community, ownership and sharing of problems and assets obviously follows from such a space.
I am sure that the lack of funding and support being offered to such community enterprises is very shortsighted and will inevitably result alienation, increased health costs, social exclusions in many forms and in increased policing costs. Thus in due time, you can expect demand for increasing funding from those authorities to cope with the fallout.
This is just one project in just one estate in one city. With the financial stuff the news is currently full of, I think we may expect this story to be repeated widely. Hold on to your hat, things are falling apart.
A slide show I made showing some of the artwork there:
More info from:
The Case Neighbourhood Centre
Robin Hood Chase
Tel: 0115 950 6867
Building Info: http://www.segalselfbuild.co.uk/projects/chase.html