A CHARITY providing vital youth services could be forced to close its doors – months after celebrating being awarded funding for a new building.

Youth in Romsey (YIR) could be hit with a funding cut of up to 80 per cent from April next year as Hampshire County Council plans to scale back its grants.

Now the charity is waiting to hear its fate – which lies in the hands of a public consultation that asked the community to share its view on where money should be saved.

The news comes just months after Hampshire County Council and Test Valley Borough Council announced they would fund a new £342,000 building as the charity has outgrown its current premises above Anya shoe shop in Bell Street.

Work is due to start on the new site next to the cricket pavilion at Romsey Sports Centre in the new year ready to open next summer.

But now the charity is concerned they may only be able to open one day a week when it’s grants are slashed from £57,000 a year to less than £16,200 – making it more difficult to run all of its services.

Youth in Romsey was launched in 1997 by the town’s churches and supports 200 youngsters aged 11 to 25 every month holding activities and helping with issues relating to education, employment, finances and sexual and mental health.

The charity, run mostly by volunteers, also visits schools across the area and runs its weekly Allsorts youth club for disabled youngsters.

Vice chairman of trustees and Test Valley Borough and Romsey Town Councillor Ian Richards said: “It will make it difficult to deliver the range of services that we currently supply and are much used by the community.

“The investment in YIR for their continued work is essential for long term savings in southern Test Valley.

"A young person with problems solved and helped into employment is preventing future costs to our community.

“Prevention cannot be quantified, but statistics showing help requests from our young people do prove the need of such a valued project in Romsey.”

Cllr Richards added that he has asked Romsey Town Council to provide financial support for youth services twice – something that they do not currently fund. His requests were refused.

Leader of Hampshire County Council Cllr Roy Perry said that he considers youth services important and backed the council’s decision to fund the new building.

However, he said the council was facing severe reductions in its Government grant and that every department had to find savings.

But he added that he hoped to find the cash to support Youth In Romsey and called on the town council to also give more financial backing.

“I’m afraid it’s a fact of economic life – we have to live within our means.

"That is why the consultation has to look at all non statutory services.

“I recognise that Youth in Romsey do a good job for Romsey’s young people.

“I remain deeply disappointed that the Romsey Town Council as far as I can see give no support for youth activities.”

For more information about how to help call 01794 500581 or visit yir.org.uk/save-yir.