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Defiant YMCA Continues Funding Push

After holding crisis talks with the public, Penicuik’s YMCA pledges to continue their campaign to achieve full council funding.

Last Wednesday, Penicuik’s YMCA/YWCA held a public meeting, outlining the affects on their organisation, after Midlothian Council slashed their funding by £35,000 over the next three years.

Late last year, Midlothian Council undertook a process of reapplication for charitable grants, and in doing so agreed the reduction in available funds. The cost saving measure will see many bodies facing a reduction over the next three years, with some even receiving no award. One of the affected facilities is the Penicuik YMCA. In a statement to us, before the meeting, they told us how the association has been going from strength to strength with new funding:

We have entered this period in a relatively healthy position with a substantial increase in our service provision, although we have little or no liquid assets; we recently had to increase our registered numbers for childcare to meet the demand, securing three year funding for our youth development worker and our Plusone mentoring programme as well as nearly £100,000 funding to develop the sports courts adjacent to our building. We also have a large number of community groups who now use our centre.

The funding mentioned above is allowing the association to create a state-of-the-art all-weather pitch, which is to be utilised by the whole community. However despite the new pitch, the vital day to day operation of the Queensway Hub is in doubt.

Following the public meeting, the organisation is now confident of a positive resolution to their problems, citing a high level of community support. Keith McIntosh, Chair of Penicuik YMCA/YWCA said:

Our campaign goes on and the tempo will increase in the coming weeks. We are greatly encouraged to know that the Penicuik community has thrown its weight behind our case to have our grant cut restored by Midlothian Council; and has offered support of our efforts to achieve a sustainable future.

Over fifty members of the community attended the meeting to hear how the organisation planned to fight the cut.

The YMCA was permitted to apply for council funding in three categories, Developing Communities, Employability Learning and Trading and Health and Physical Activity. An application for a nominated amount was made for each category but funding was only  given for two of the three. A sum of £47,000 was awarded in the developing communities category, with the amount falling to £24,000 in year three. Just under £60k was requested into year three, leaving a potential funding gap of just over £35,000. No funding was given in the learning category, leaving £10,260 to be awarded in the physical activity category, though this too will be reduced into year three, by just shy of £5,000.

The YMCA said:

We are confident that we can make strategic adjustments, so that we do not harm the momentum we have built up in recent years, especially in the quality of the services we provide to children, young people and families and we will act decisively, but not foolishly.

While, we are campaigning to have the support that was previously offered by Midlothian Council reinstated, we are already trying to source other funding for core costs. We are also putting plans together to organise fundraising events for which we would value the community’s support more than ever, at this difficult time. However, if these efforts are unsuccessful, make no mistake, the future of this valued and unique community facility is at risk.

The community facility runs clubs and events for all ages. Their ‘hub’ also gives the community a use of a games hall and a soft play area. After surviving the recession, the YMCA is defiant saying:

We must stay true to our core values and goals as we make any decisions. As the financial situation evolves, we will continue to keep the community informed of any developments. In times like these, we rely upon the dedication of all our members, service users and the support of our community. By working together, we will not only survive the current financial downturn; we will emerge even stronger in the months ahead.

Concerned locals are also asked to sign a petition asking for the reinstatement of the full amount. It can be viewed here.

At the time of the awarding of funds, Council Leader Councillor Owen Thompson said:

We understand some groups will be disappointed while others will be delighted.

This was about a robust, objective process starting from scratch. Applicants needed to be able to give evidence in their application about why the funding was needed, how it would be used, and what difference the funding would make.

This was to make sure we are spending money wisely and on projects that will really make a difference in local communities.

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