To petition WMDC to fund the Hut correctly so chrysalis can continue to manage it.
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CHRYSALIS YOUTH & COMMUNITY PROJECT
TERMINATION OF MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE HUT
It is with deep regret and sadness that Chrysalis has to announce the end of its involvement in the operation and management of The Hut youth and community centre in Airedale.
The Hut was built in 2011 at a cost of £5m following a successful joint bid by Chrysalis and Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (WMDC) to the Government's My Place funding programme. The greater part of the bid documentation was prepared by Chrysalis. The centre was originally built to serve the young people of the 5 Towns area, and was supported by a range of local authority services that worked with and supported young people.
After the first 12 months of operation, the majority of these WMDC services were withdrawn from the building and took their funding with them. In 2012/13 the ethos of the building had suddenly changed from being a fully funded young person’s centre, to becoming a self-funded and income generating community and leisure centre in order to become self-sustainable. In 2017 the few remaining WMDC staff were relocated from the building to Wakefield, with a corresponding further reduction in rental income to the building.
As a flagship youth and community facility in the district it is essential that its operation is adequately supported and funded by WMDC, but it has chosen not to do so. The management and operation of the building was supposed to be a joint venture between Chrysalis and WMDC through a Partnership Agreement and regular Steering Group Meetings. Despite constant requests by Chrysalis to WMDC over the past 4 years to support the building operation by providing adequate staff and financial resources, it received no response. Over the last 2 years further WMDC funding has been made available to the Airedale Estate, but The Hut has been bypassed and has had funding refused for projects which would have benefited Airedale and which would have increased the income in order to become more sustainable.
The significant loss of rental income from WMDC has seriously impacted on the finances of The Hut. Over the last 4 years the reduction in funding has resulted in the building operating an annual deficit of approximately £25,000 each year. The shortfall has been made up from within Chrysalis's own reserves, enabling the building to be kept open to the public and to provide the current leisure services to the community. Over the same period, Chrysalis has also invested a total of £60,000 in maintenance and improvement works to the building, without any financial assistance from WMDC.
The Chrysalis management has been extremely proactive in seeking to address the deficit by reducing staffing costs (including redundancies), and increasing building income by seeking new community partners and user groups. Whilst their efforts have seen a substantial increase in footfall, as a community building, many of the activities are provided at minimal (subsidised) or no cost to the user groups and have been insufficient to cover the reduction in WMDC funding.
The rental income previously provided by WMDC enabled The Hut to provide two free youth clubs to local young people on a Friday night and on Wednesday teatime. Friday nights were aimed at 12 – 16 year olds and were attended by up to 130 young people and up to 60 young people aged 8 – 11 years on Wednesday. The nominal entry fee of £1 did not cover the building operating costs nor the wages of staff required to manage these sessions at a safe level. The loss of WMDC rental income, made these facilities unviable and Chrysalis advised WMDC of its intention to cease to provide them in October 2017.
This free youth provision and other services offered by the Hut reduced recorded anti-social behaviour on the Airedale Estate from 51% down to 37%. Three months before these youth clubs were stopped, WMDC were advised of the negative effect it would have on the Airedale Estate, and were invited to the Friday night sessions to see the free services offered to young people and the numbers attending. Chrysalis received no respose to the proposed closures and had no alternative but to cease providing them.
The Chrysalis Youth & Community Project is a registered charity operating within the Airedale Estate. The Board of Trustees has an obligation to make sure that money is not invested into a loss making entity as it puts at risk the future of its other social enterprise activities. Having constantly sought support from WMDC over the past 4 years without success, the Board regretably came to the conclusion that it could no longer continue to fund the shortfall in The Hut finances and decided to terminate the Partnership Agreement with WMDC.
In October this year the Board submitted the stipulated 6 month notice of its intention to terminate the Agreement. Within the notice period, WMDC had the option to review the request for additional funding or take over the building and run it themselves. WMDC recently informed Chrysalis of its decision to take over the running of the building. Chrysalis will therefore end its involvement with the Hut on 28th of February 2019 and WMDC will take over the management from 1st March.
In relinquishing its management role for The Hut, Chrysalis has sought and received assurance from WMDC that the existing building staff will be transferred to the employment of WMDC in order that they may continue their operational duties. At this moment in time Chrysalis has no information on how it is to be managed or run or any proposals WMDC may be considering for its future.
Having invested considerable time and effort in securing the funding for The Hut and endeavouring to make a success of its operation to the benefit of the local youth and community groups (with minimal help from WMDC), it is with a heavy heart that Chrysalis finds it necessary to withdraw from the project.
Nevertheless, Chrysalis would like to thank everyone for their support over the past 6 years and wish The Hut continued success in the future.
We sign this petition to ask WMDC to reconsider their position and to commit to Funding Crystalis for a least the next 5 years and let them carry on the excellent and committed work that they have so diligently carried out so selflessly.
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