South East Wales

Merthyr Engine House youth project saved from closure

Dowlais Engine House
Image caption The club will look for new tenants to share its premises

A young people's centre in Merthyr Tydfil has been saved from closure with new grant aid.

The Pant and Dowlais Boys and Girls Club launched a campaign to save its Engine House premises as it feared losing £92,000 Communities First funding.

However the Welsh Assembly Government is now giving the project £181,192 in Communities First core funding.

A further £76,000 will come from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT).

The Communities First money will pay for salaries and running costs while the CRT grant will be used to recruit a business development manager to develop long-term sources of funding.

The Pant and Dowlais club has been running for 20 years, moving into the historic Dowlais Engine House in 2006.

It offers activities and courses for more than 1,200 six to 18-year-olds, including football, netball, drama, sign language courses, guitar and singing lessons and mini-gym.

The grant from the Coalfields Social Enterprise Grant Scheme focuses on helping to develop the long-term sustainability of the project.

A key task for the business development manager will be to find additional tenants to share the building with the youth project.

Alun Taylor, CRT regeneration manager for Wales, said: "The person appointed will lead on the development of business start-up units and hireable community space and expansion of income generating activities.

"Central to this work will be the installation of a new upper floor into the building.

"The Coalfields Regeneration Trust has long recognised the massive potential of the Engine House and its vital service to the young people of Merthyr since its inception.

Image caption Prince Charles visited Dowlais Engine House when it opened in 2006

"This new project is critical to securing a stable future for the club by reducing dependency on grant funding and continuing to develop a vital provision that is up to date and relevant to the needs of young people and the wider community."

Project co-ordinator Paul Marshallsea said they had been praised by local police for helping to cut youth crime and anti-social behaviour in Dowlais.

"We asked the young people what they wanted from the outset - and we've provided exactly that," he said.

"Some of them were taking drugs and getting into trouble because there was nothing else to do.

"We are so happy and so grateful to the Coalfields Regeneration Trust for their support.

"Without it, we probably wouldn't have been able to survive."

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