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Base 33 youth centre saved as funding campaign pays off
A YOUTH centre in Witney has been saved thanks to support from Oxford Mail readers, businesses and the Prime Minister.
Last month, Base 33 in High Street faced the prospect of cutting 75 per cent of its work within weeks.
Support for teenage mothers, schemes to get young people into work and drop-in services were under threat after public donations dried up.
But readers of the Oxford Mail and our sister paper the Witney Gazette jumped to its aid, donating more than £10,000 since a story highlighting its plight four weeks ago.
Trustees chairman, the Rev Richard Donoghue, said: “The response to the article was incredible. It would have been much, much more difficult for the trustees to have sustained Base 33’s future in the way we have been able to do without it.”
He said the centre was safe for between six and nine months, but added more funding would be needed to secure it long term.
The centre needs about £30,000 a year in public donations to keep afloat. But Mr Donoghue said Witney businesses, councils and Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron had all come forward with future pledges.
A spokesman for Mr Cameron said he met trustees last Friday and agreed to host a fundraiser in the next six months, as well as potentially donating items to an auction.
West Oxfordshire District Council will decide today whether to grant £5,000 to the centre.
Base 33 had seen a 50 per cent reduction in public donations over the past year, caused by the recession.
But Mr Donoghue said: “I think we took our eye off the ball and that was the consequence.
“We have to hold our hands up, we were not paying attention to the funds closely enough.
“But we will not do that again. We cannot afford to.”
Base 33, which is 10 years old, is open four days and four evenings a week and helps some 150 youngsters in Witney and Carterton.
The users welcomed the public’s generosity at a drop-in session on Monday.
Luke Davis, 15, of Jacobs Mill, Witney, said: “I think it is amazing. It shows that people care about Base 33.”
Jesse Day, 18, of Smith’s estate, Witney, said: “Not everyone knows what we do but they are still giving money. It is brilliant.
“Base means everything to me – it is like my family.
“They have helped me get a house and through my family problems.”
Bryony Timms, 17, of West End, Witney, said: “It is absolutely amazing. Base 33 has helped us out so much and we want them to help other people out as well.”
She said the centre had helped her get an apprenticeship in health and social care and assisted with family problems.
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