You may or may not have heard or seen that changes are afoot at WAM Youth! I wanted to communicate directly with you all now that we have a little bit more clarity ourselves about what is going on! There is a lot of information here but I wanted to be transparent about what has happened and what we are hoping for so please read through and do get in touch if you have any questions.
Why are WAM moving?
In early 2019 we began talking to Winchcombe Youth Partnership (WYP) who were the leaseholders of 8 Gretton Road aka The Old Boys School. This building is the old County Council Youth Centre and was at that time unused for youth work and both our charities had hoped to work collaboratively to reopen that space to young people.
We all know what happened in 2020 and inevitably this had an impact on our hopes for collaboration. After working together on some responsive projects in the early stages of the pandemic both charities decided that the best option going forward was for WAM Youth to approach Gloucestershire County Council, as owners of the Old Boys School, to express their interest in taking on the lease of the building. I did this on behalf of WAM’s Trustees in November 2020. I was told at that point to be patient and that GCC would be reviewing the building and its future in due course. One year on and we are still waiting, albeit after some very positive dialogue between us and GCC in the early summer.
We do believe the hope and intent of GCC is that the building is re-let for youth and community use and we appreciate and are thankful to them as property owners for reviewing its physical condition and safety. We are also grateful to other organisations for providing us with temporary options for accommodation to run our sessions whilst we can’t use the Old Boys School. Namely Winchcombe Guides, Scouts and St Peter’s Church. We are also grateful to Winchcombe Town Council for their support given at their meeting last night for WAM being able to move back into the building.
The added complexity we face is that we have been asked to downsize (by end of December) and then vacate (by end of March) our offices at 9 Gretton Road due to Encounter Church’s desire to use the space for church activities. We have been very grateful to Encounter for all the support and premises help they have provided for a nominal rent over the years, without this we would not have been able to offer the growing number of services and activities that we do as more of our costs would have been spent on overheads rather than direct youth work. This notice to leave does now however mean there is a time pressure on our hoped for move to the Old Boys School and we are asking for public support to help move this along. We have a meeting with representatives from GCC on 17th November and we want to impress on them the willingness of the amazing Winchcombe Community to support bringing that building back into full youth and community use both practically and financially.
How can you help?
1. Signing our petition to show your support for our request to GCC to engage with the local community and particularly young people as they make decisions about the building’s future & refurbishment. You can also add comments about your experience of the youth centre and/or willingness to offer skills/time/finance to help restore it to youth and community use. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-winchcombe-s-youth-centre
2. If you have children please ask them to write an email or letter or create a video message describing in their words why a youth centre is important and what facilities they think it should have and send to us at email@example.com for us to collate and present to GCC. These communications will also help us when we come to seek grant funding to continue our youth work and maintain/improve the building in the future. If you send us a video message please ensure you explicitly state in your accompanying email that you are giving WAM permission to share this with potential funders & GCC.
3. Pledge to support WAM’s increased costs for maintaining the building if we move back in. We will need to raise an additional £10000 per year to pay for insurance, utilities, general running costs (this figure is based on known previous expenditure). We have a 3 year business plan that includes plans for fundraising through grants and using the space for community activities that will help towards generating this income. However these will take time to build up and can’t commence until we have a long lease and are physically back in the space. They are also not as reliable as consistent monthly or annual donations. In making a pledge you are not giving anything now, simply pledging to contribute towards these costs should we be successful in moving back in. You can make a pledge here https://forms.gle/JosTVALiCMPPvK8j7. Please note no financial information will be collected at this stage.
Alternatively if you prefer to just donate straightaway you can do so here: https://wamyouth.enthuse.com/donate#!/
I hope that this explains things clearly and conveys the hope that we still hold for the reopening of this space. Please do get in touch if you have any questions.
Many thanks for your support