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Newbury's Waterside Centre holds evening of entertainment as it seeks further support from funders for youth services



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Guests and supporters of the Waterside Centre enjoyed an evening of entertainment and refreshments on October 20 as the charity seeks more funding for its youth programmes and services.

Both existing and potential funders had the opportunity to tour the Waterside Centre, find out where their money had gone, as well as where it's still needed.

Attendees saw the Centre’s new climbing wall in full operation and heard from Berkshire Youth's CEO David Seward.

Guests had the chance to see the young people enjoy the equipment first hand. (52524074)
Guests had the chance to see the young people enjoy the equipment first hand. (52524074)

Newbury’s VoxFresh, a singing group founded in 2019, welcomed guests upon arrival and performed songs, both as a choir and solo performances.

Attendees had a full tour of the available facilities and were able to speak to young people and staff about what they get up to.

Youngsters on Climbing walla. (52523980)
Youngsters on Climbing walla. (52523980)

Among the guests was the Lord Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire James Puxley and his wife Deborah Puxley.

Other guests included Greenham Trust chief executive Chris Boulton and Peter Haig from Englefield Charitable Trust, as well as others from Pace Investments, Byrne Brothers, Wooden Spoon, Field Seymour Parkes and Bernard Sunley Foundation.

Mr Seward said: “The whole point of the event was to show them what their money has been used for and to encourage them to do more.

“This started as a small project which ended up as a £1.5 million project.

Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, James and Deborah Puxley, Roger Smee, Clive Williams, and Jim Leftwich.. (52523981)
Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, James and Deborah Puxley, Roger Smee, Clive Williams, and Jim Leftwich.. (52523981)

“There was a mix of people who have funded and people we want to give the opportunity to add additional funds to the pot."

He said that the organisation is grateful to all those who support it but donations and grants are still being sought as the centre is still short of its target.

Also at the event was former Newbury mayor, Elizabeth O’Keefe, leader of West Berkshire Council Lynne Doherty, as well as Chief executive Nigel Lynn, chairman Clive Hooker and Youth Offending Team manager Dave Wraight.

The VoxFresh choir singing at the fundraising event, (52524069)
The VoxFresh choir singing at the fundraising event, (52524069)

Mr Seward said that austerity has deprived young people of access to facilities and safe spaces, something that has worsened during the pandemic.

He added: “For some young people, the most unsafe space for them is at home.

“For the past ten years they have been at the bottom of the pile.

Attendees had the opportunity to speak with the Berkshire Youth Trainers. (52524072)
Attendees had the opportunity to speak with the Berkshire Youth Trainers. (52524072)

“Young people still deserve attention and access to support."

He also commented that there isn’t enough stress placed on preventative services, like youth projects, that stop young people falling into crisis.

Mr Seward said attention is focused on services that follow a crisis, mental health induced or other, rather than projects that can prevent them happening in the first place, which is something that needs to change.

“Prevention has not got the credibility that it needs,” he added.

Youngsters show off their skills on the facilities at the Waterside Centre. (52524073)
Youngsters show off their skills on the facilities at the Waterside Centre. (52524073)

He also discussed the importance of establishing the Waterside Centre as a strong “community hub” in Newbury.

“It has to say to young people, we like you, we trust you and we want to invest in you," he said.

“This is a place that young people can come to, a place they can feel involved, and to see an investment in them.

Vox Fresh perform 3 numbers.. (52524070)
Vox Fresh perform 3 numbers.. (52524070)

“We are hoping this whole place will become a village.”

In terms of getting young people involved the centre offers them a “selection of options” through activities which then creates a “line of communication”.

Mr Seward said: “They then come back to talk to our team, and to have that safe space.”



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