Community centre which helped young people into work closes after 30 years

West Euston Project tweets: That's All Folks!

Thursday, 31st March — By Harry Taylor

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West Euston Project was founded as the West Euston Partnership

A COMMUNITY centre that helped bridge racial tension and get young people into work in the Regent’s Park Estate will close tomorrow (Friday) – the second to shut in the borough this month.

The West Euston Project (WEP), based in Hampstead Road, will formally shut its doors and end its services 30 years after it was set up.

A funding shortfall of £80,000 is behind the decision amid a growing environment of difficulty in obtaining grants and financial support.

Kelly Strong, chair of the Regent’s Park Estate tenants’ and residents’ association, who also sits on the WEP board, said: “It’s a real loss, especially for the younger generation who come out of education and don’t know where to go or what to do.

“It meant they could brush up on their CV skills and get pushed in the right direction, and that’s something that’s really important.

“People forget that it was set up during a real time of racial tension and it helped bring people together. It really helped change things.

“A lot of crime or gangs is to do with people being bored, and this would give them something else to do.”

WEP was founded as the West Euston Partnership, part of a regeneration project in the area, in 1992, and evolved to have a jobs club, provide free rentable computers, homework support and also ran a choir and yoga classes.

It also became a strong voice against the impact of HS2 works on the area.

Its closure comes on the same day as that of the Caraf Centre, in Queen’s Crescent, which was set up as a pioneering hub in the 1980s to support the black and Caribbean community. The New Journal reported last week how the centre, which included after-school catch-up classes and a nursery, would shut because of a similar lack of cash.

WEP treasurer Heather Johnson said its decision to cease had been taken early in the new year.

She said: “Funding is a lot harder to come by now. Funders want something new and shiny, so if there’s something you’re already doing locally that’s well used but isn’t necessarily exciting or innovative, they won’t fund you.

“The main problem is that yes, there are other providers who may run similar services. But they all tend to be separate. We were a community centre for the whole area, not just one specific group. It’s a shame that it will be lost.”

Cllr Johnson, who as well as sitting on the WEP board of trustees has been a Camden councillor for nearly three decades, said that an insolvency practitioner would help decide the future of its office, the HPod rentable space in Cumberland Market and other services including its rentable bikes for disabled people.

“If they think that there is no value to them, they might be willing to give them to Camden or to another provider who is interested,” she said.

“There are still creditors that need to be paid.”


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She added that WEP’s closure along with the Caraf Centre raised concerns for the fate of other centres in an era where the voluntary sector has been expected to do more in the face of local government cuts.

“It does make me fear for them,” said Cllr Johnson. “There is less money around now.

“We survived partly because we would have partners come in and share the Hampstead Road space and pay for it – that’s gone.

“We were not in an area where crowd­funding was going to work. There are less options out there – even Lottery funding is less now. We saw Kingsgate close less than two years ago, there are two closing this week – there could be others.”

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