Social club to continue despite funding shortfall

By Dave Doyle | 18/08/2017

Social club to continue despite funding shortfall

A SOCIAL club for people with learning difficulties will continue despite funding support being withdrawn by its national backers.

Mencap Active Rotherham has offered social activities and drop-in advice for around 25 years but members were rocked by the news that the sessions, funded by Rotherham Borough Council until 2014, would no longer be financially maintained by Mencap.

The club, based at the Meeting Place in Wingfield, looked destined to close but is now moving into a new home with a new name and hopes of landing fresh funding.

Organisers will mark the fresh start as Jupiter 61 at the Chislett Centre in Kimberworth Park with a barbecue at 1pm on Saturday.

Julie Haystead and Pete Jackson, who have run Mencap Active for over five years, said the council was forcing the move - a claim the authority denies.

“It would be great if the council said we could stay at the Meeting Place, but apparently they have to put the occupancy out to tender,” Julie said.

“The Chislett is very nice, but we’ll only ever be visitors there. 

“We’ll have to take everything up there and take it away again at the end.

“The Meeting Place was ours - it would be ideal if we could win a new contract there.

“We have put in applications for National Lottery and other funding, but it’s a long process, so we’ve gone to our contingency plan.”

Julie and Peter, who are being supported by Mencap, will keep running drop-in sessions each Saturday, starting on September 2.

Prices will go up slightly to plug the funding gap, with sessions rising from £5 to £6.50 each.

And a disco scheduled for next Tuesday will still take place at Silverwood Miners’ Welfare.

The pair are determined to maintain their services for disabled people \_ with plans to expand into events for the elderly.

“It’s a backwards step, but we want to keep everything going pretty much the same,” said Julie.

“We’ve both had a really good time doing this. It’s been great and it will continue to be great.”

A borough council spokeswoman denied that the group had been forced out of the Meeting Place.

She said: “Nationally, the organisation [Mencap] has served notice on us to end their tenancy at the Meeting Place.

“We will now be looking at options for the future use of the building in line with our usual procurement processes and any group or service is welcome to apply for future use.”

The spokeswoman added that she was not aware of any application by a group called Jupiter 61 to take over the building.

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