YOUNG people from the Petworth Youth Association rose to the occasion to tell the community just how much their youth club means to them.
Chloe Dudman and Jade Abbott gave moving testimonials about the difference being part of the Petworth Youth Association has made to their lives.
Both eloquently expressed how invaluable they had found the support they had been given and how important it had been to be able to access the safe environment the youth club provides.
The youth club members hosted representatives from the Petworth Business community, parish and town councils and individuals interested in supporting the ongoing work of the centre.
Youth worker Jon Welch explained the challenges the youth club is now facing – mainly, how to fund their own youth workers now it has been confirmed West Sussex County Council can no longer do so from March 2014.
An encouraging response has already begun to the challenge of raising a commitment of £20,000 a year for the next three years to make the transition to self-funding.
Roger Morgan Grenville from Dexam Charitable Trust explained to guests how the trust has already made a commitment to this cause because they had seen the tremendous work being done when his son volunteered at the club. He encouraged others to follow their example.
Annie Sneller, on behalf of the Petworth Youth Association Management Committee, said: “We are really encouraged by the way our community is rising to this challenge to continue the legacy of more than 50 years of work with young people from this rural area.
“There is still a lot of work to be done but we have made a great start.
“A big thank you to those who attended the open evening and to those who have already made commitments to volunteer time and finance.
“We look forward to hearing from more people in the near future.”
The centre opens on Monday and Tuesday from 3pm-5pm and Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7pm-9.30pm.
There are junior sessions for ten- to 13-year-olds on Tuesdays from 6.30pm-8pm.
Senior sessions are free to attend but some activities cost.
The club sessions are a mix of recreation and informal education. Support is offered to young people concerning issues such as bullying, substance misuse, problems at school or eating disorders.
If anyone wants more details they can contact the club on 01798 344880 or email sylviabeaufoy @btinternet.com