Farewell party planned as Melksham youth centre closes after 40 years

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Young people in Melksham campaigning against the closure of CAnberra in February Young people in Melksham campaigning against the closure of CAnberra in February

After more than 40 years servicing the young people of Melksham the Canberra Youth Centre will close its doors next week, following cuts to council youth services.

The last activities at the Spa Road centre, which was opened in the late 1960s, will take place on Thursday July 24, before a farewell fun day to mark its closure.

Former members and users of the service are invited to the celebration on August 8, which will include face painting, a bouncy castle and a barbecue.

In May Wiltshire Council confirmed a £191,000 cut to its youth services budget, and that ‘unviable’ youth centres would close, with local volunteers groups sought to take on the services.

Centre co-ordinator Mark Holden said: “Decisions have been made for each centre in each area as to when they will stop delivering, and ours is ending at the end of next week.

“We are putting on trips for young people up until August 15, so that will be our last delivery, but doors are closing to regular centre-based activities on Thursday.

“We have made the decision as a service, partially because we have to close the building down to get it ready for the handover, so there is a lot of tidying up to do.

“It’s very sad, but some of our young people are already working on alternatives for the future, so there are efforts going on at the moment to look to the future.

“Canberra has been an institution in Melksham for many years, which is why we are having the fun day to celebrate the life of Canberra and all who have been through it.”

As well as Mr Holden, who will be taking voluntary redundancy, the centre employs seven part-time workers and two-volunteers to organise its range of services.

The staff are currently working on a ‘memory book’ to encapsulate the centre’s history, and have invited local people to share their memories and pictures of the centre.

Mr Holden said: “I am not quite sure where we will put it, but it needs to be available to the people of Melksham, so I am hoping the Town Council will hold it for us.

“I was never going to be here very long as I was only on a 12-month contract, but I have built up some really good relationships with the young people, staff and volunteers here, and I will be very sad to see it close.”

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