In a “bolt from the blue”, popular Woodbridge youth and children’s work charity, Just42, was told of the imminent closure of Woodbridge Youth Centre, last week. Its home for the last 10 years. There has been a youth club held at the Woodbridge site ever since it was built in the early 70’s.
According to Just42 Manager Caroline Rutherford: “The reasons Suffolk County Council has given us are that the building is well beyond its design life and they are concerned over potential health & safety risks in the future.” Caroline was “not entirely surprised” that the building will eventually have to close but is “terribly shocked to be told that we have to vacate the building by the end of August or indeed -in the worst case- in the next 5 days!!”
The charity supports over 2000 children and young people in the Woodbridge area through a range of clubs, projects and a mentoring scheme. Caroline Page, County Councillor for Woodbridge and long-time supporter of Just42 says: “I’m very concerned that we manage to re-house Just42 immediately in temporary accommodation so that there is no break in their valuable services. It’s also important that we start fund-raising at once so that we can rebuild the youth centre on its present site as soon as possible!”
Cllr Page, – who celebrated her last election by walking from Felixstowe to Lowestoft to raise funds for Just42 – points out “Just42 is exceptional! From the hub in the Youth Centre Just42 engages over 2,000 different young people per year through weekly clubs, sports coaching, mentoring groups and school assemblies. Just42 gives support, advice and help to encourage young people 10-18 to succeed and fulfil their potential. And Just42 is not only doing this well and effectively – it is doing it on a shoestring!
After austerity, Just42 remains the only such group left in our part of Suffolk and its irreplaceable work is funded entirely by donations. We cannot allow this valuable asset to be lost to Woodbridge.”
Woodbridge Deputy Mayor Clare Perkins – who is hoping to become a Just42 mentor – is emphatic that the Youth Centre is rebuilt in situ. “The centre is ideally sited for access, privacy and recreation for the wide range of groups who use it. We are very short of space in Woodbridge – there is nowhere else that offers this perfect combination. Let us all work together as a community to make this happen!”
Caroline Rutherford is also concerned about the many other regular hall hirers at the centre “this decision will have a far reaching impact on the people of Woodbridge. The Gateway club for example, run for adults with additional needs, has met here for 35 years.”
Kevin Woods, Just42 youth work manager; Woodbridge County Councillor Caroline Page; Milly Wright, Just42 Youth Work Apprentice; Ellie, youth club member; Sarah Smith, Just42 Administrator; Ruth Blunt, Just42 Children’s Work Manager; Caroline Rutherford, Just42 Charity Manager – outside the Woodbridge Youth Centre