Cash crisis puts youth lifeline at risk of axe

The Broomhouse project takes youngsters away from the city
The Broomhouse project takes youngsters away from the city
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A PROJECT which helps the children of drink or drug addicts and has a two-year waiting list is facing closure amid a funding crisis.

The Broomhouse Youth Befriending Project needs to find £10,000 in the next eight weeks to keep running, amid warnings its loss would be a “catastrophe”.

It currently provides one-to-one support for vulnerable youngsters – of whom about 80 per cent have parents with addictions.

Project manager Alana Taylor said: “If we do not get any funding by June we’re going to close. We’ve got just three months to turn everything around.

“It’s been going for 20 years and it’s seen Broomhouse through a lot of changes. It’s a fantastic little project.

“Without services like these, there’s a chance the youngsters could get involved in substance abuse themselves because you’re so much more likely to repeat the cycle if your parents have problems.

“The fact we have a two-year waiting list says it all about how badly needed this project is.”

The project’s 12 volunteers provide assistance to youngsters aged five to 18 years old in the Broomhouse, Stenhouse, Sighthill and Saughton areas.

About 20 children a year benefit from the service, through self-referrals or by being put in touch through agencies such as the police.

Two years ago, the project was forced to go from full-time to part-time because of its funding troubles. Two months ago it was forced to cut its hours further.

It needs to secure £10,000 to avoid closing its doors in the summer and needs £28,000 to continue operating for another year.

Ms Taylor added: “We apply for funding from the private, public and third sectors but getting funding has just become so much more difficult.

“Befriending just seems to be seen as a bit old fashioned now.”

Labour Sighthill councillor Donald Wilson, a member of the Broomhouse Centre board, said: “It would be a catastrophe if it folded. It’s an incredible service and there’s a lack of this sort of thing in the area.”

Cllr Wilson, who said council funding for the project had been reduced in the last budget, added: “I vehemently disagree with reducing the money available to this project.

“We’ve just had statistics which show youth poverty is at a record high in Broomhouse and the surrounding areas, so I would think there has never been a greater need for the befriending service.

“These services are pretty unique and it would be very difficult for the council to replicate them.

“Broomhouse has had a hard time in recent years and it needs this service badly.”

No-one from the council was available to comment.