Vench is facing "period of change"

April 03 2018
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The Vench, our much loved adventure playground is currently in a period of change. Learning Partnership West (LPW), who have run 5 open access play sessions and 2 open access youth sessions a week has reached the end of their Council funded contract,

The Vench, our much loved adventure playground is currently in a period of change.

Learning Partnership West (LPW), who have run 5 open access play sessions and 2 open access youth sessions a week has reached the end of their Council funded contract, called Bristol Youth Links (BYL). They have not been awarded the new Council contract called Targeted Youth Service - TYS), which means that they are unable to continue providing the same level of service.

Last year the Council changed the way they funded youth provision across the City in light of cuts. The new contract has a 50% funding cut to North Bristol, 30% cut overall, and does not include any provision for play and only focuses on children aged 11 to 19. The new contract has been awarded to Creative Youth Network (CYN) who start their new contract in June and are still finalising their plans.

Bristol City Council say, “Reductions in central government funding has meant the council can no longer do everything it used to do and must now operate with less funds available. The Council has a number of duties towards young people aged between 13 and 19 that central government have set. These include supporting young people into education, training or employment and promote a wide range of positive opportunities for children and young people. As the funding available to meet these duties shrinks so a new approach needs to be taken to focus those resources where the greatest need lies.”

Groundwork South lease the Vench from the council and are working with The Vench steering group to find an alternative way to continue the youth and play sessions.

“Groundwork South are a not for profit charity which does not receive any government subsidies, consequently we’re looking to find funding streams to keep the Vench open. We are asking the Lockleaze community to work with us as we know this is an important community asset. This support could be volunteering, fundraising, hire of facilities, donating and championing the facilities. If you have ideas about how to make the place profitable so that we can keep open the Adventure Playground we would love to hear from you” says Charley Murrell of  Groundwork South.

“Despite no longer getting any Council funding LPW are still committed to working with young people in Lockleaze. LPW will be running a reduced service after the Easter Weekend. From the 4th of April will be running one session a week on Wednesday at The Vench, from 5.30pm until 8.00pm for children and young people aged 11-19. LPW is working hard to develop an alternative play and youth offer for the city, including North Bristol and we look forward to sharing details in the next edition of the Voice. We will be holding a community fun day to mark the end of our current provision on the 28th March (1-4pm) and would like to welcome everyone along!”, says Pete Woods-Wetton of LPW.

A community conversation has started focused on the future of children and young people in Lockleaze. There have been two pop up meetings which both fed into a larger community conversation held at the Hub on the 17th March. People expressed their concerns about the changes that are happening; we discussed all of the other activities and events going on for young people and identified local residents who are committed to securing funding for the future of the Vench.

We spoke to a number of children who were also passionate about keeping open the Vench, here are a few quotes captured; “The Vench is so good because it lets kids socialise and have confidence” and “The Vench is the best place to come and make friends”. Local parents were equally passionate about The Vench and expressed strong feelings they would want to see it continue in the same way as before, offering open access play and youth sessions throughout the week.

In conclusion to these discussions Kyra Davies, a local resident is hosting a meeting specifically to discuss The Vench, to allow local people to become practically involved,working alongside Groundwork to establish new volunteer schemes, funding opportunities, new services and a resident-led future. The first one will be held at The Vench on Thursday 12th April at 7pm. Please come along, if you need to bring children we’ll have an arts and craft table set up.

If you would like to discuss any of the above or find out further information please contact Charley from Groundwork on 01179 103930 or e-mail charley.murrell@groundwork.org.uk