'IMPORTANT' youth groups face closure because funding has been cut.

The £8,000 annual grant for Eastleigh's LGBT Breakout Youth group has come to an abrupt stop this month, leaving dozens of youngsters without their weekly meeting.

Group leader Michael Salmon said it means young people - some of whom have relied on the group for up to five years - will no longer have the support of an LGBT-friendly network.

Up to twenty young people between the ages of 13 to 20 go to the sessions each week.

Designed as a way to offer emotional and practical support to young people, the sessions are a chance to socialise with others and often include visits from police officers and sexual health workers.

Mr Salmon said: "We help them connect to the wider community. Without the meetings they haven't got a safe and secure place to be themselves.

"The young people that come to Eastleigh can't travel to Southampton because of transport issues and some of them aren't out to their parents.

"The group is really well established and important to the community.

"We work really closely with Barton Peveril College and Eastleigh College - but it means we don't have a group now to offer those young people that we meet."

Now the group will be forced to look for alternative funding.

Mr Salmon added: "It's really disappointing. Now we have to let people know that they don't have their support network any more.

"Our volunteer will also be losing their role as well."

The funding pays for room hire, staffing and activities for the young people.

Hampshire County Council said: "This year, Breakout has been given funding in five of Hampshire’s districts, where LGBT issues are specifically named as a local priority and the services are highly used.

“In Eastleigh, this year’s funding has included support for two youth hubs, run by Groundworks and Youth Options.

"These hubs will provide support that directly meets the priorities listed by Local Children’s Partnerships in the area; these include issues such as sexual health, health and well-being, housing advice, education/employment advice, relationships and life skills.

"The youth hubs will be open to all young people, of any sexual orientation or gender, for help and advice.

"Young people in Eastleigh who need support with issues specifically relating to sexual orientation or gender, will be able to attend the hubs, to receive help or signposting towards other local services.”

The organisation's Isle of Wight group has also lost their funding.

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