THE EFFORTS of volunteers and councillors to reinstate Wroughton’s youth club have paid off as the group is poised to relaunch this evening – nearly five months after it was forced to disband.
Youngsters in the village will finally have a safe haven to meet their peers and enjoy activities after school at the sports pavilion in Maunsell Way after a pair of residents, Chris Manning and Hazel Hodd, were so appalled at the sudden closure of the centre they opted to take it over themselves under the control of the parish council.
The grand reopening will start at 6pm today.
The club was left with no choice but to turn its young users away after the youth worker in charge was redeployed by Swindon Council to its outreach programme.
With no one to man or run the group, it shut in November last year.
But ex-councillor Chris with the help of Hazel, who had offered both their services at the previous youth group, chose to remedy the situation and are preparing to welcome former and new users tonight and every week for the foreseeable future at the new club.
Chris, 60, said having a place for young people in Wroughton to meet and interact was crucial.
“When I was a teenager back in the late 1960s, Swindon had a population of 50,000 and it had 37 youth clubs,” said the nurse. “Now Swindon has a population of over 200,000 and it has about 13 youth clubs.
“Wroughton has a population of 8,500 and when the youth club closed I felt that if we didn’t do something to keep this club going there would be nothing on for the youth of Wroughton.
“What I wanted was to provide a safe and secure environment for the youth of Wroughton to come along to and meet in a relaxed atmosphere.
“What I would like now is to encourage volunteers to help.”
Eventually the group will have its own management committee, including youth centre users.
Parish council leader Paul Hurst welcomed the reopening, although he wished the council had provided one of its own youth workers to lead the group.
“We have been talking to Youth Action Wiltshire to make sure we do it the right way,” he said. “We had been trying very hard to get it re-opened and to convince the council to provide us with a youth worker but they didn’t.
“It was very popular when it ran and hopefully the young people who used it will turn up again. There is a lot for them at the pavilion. “We have a separate room for the youth club with a big TV screen, games console, and there is table tennis and a small pool table. It’s a place for young people to come together.”
The Wroughton Youth Club will run every Wednesday evening between 6pm and 8.30pm.