Autism charity fears closure of Sidcup Youth Centre

PUBLISHED: 13:34 09 March 2016 | UPDATED: 13:34 09 March 2016

PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Bexley branch supports over 200 local families

An autism charity fears the next round of cuts by Bexley council could involve the closure and sell-off of its much-loved base.

The Sidcup Youth Centre on Burnt Oak Lane is home to a number of youth groups, including the Bexley branch of the National Autistic Society, which has now been there for nearly a decade.

Having invested in a storage unit on the site in recent years, the centre is seen as a permanent home for the society, which supports over 200 local families with autistic children, who take part in a number of activities including games and cooking.

A spokesperson for the branch said: “We just want to try and raise some support because so many people use this centre.

“We have received no funding from the borough for the last few years and now run completely on donations.

“The group is organised by a small team of volunteer parents who have autistic children and understand what these families need.

“Without Bexley NAS, families of children on the autism spectrum will have nowhere to go after school, at weekends or during the school holidays.

“We need the Sidcup Youth Centre to provide all these essential services.

“It’s important that those that are making these decisions to consider the knock on effects and inevitable increased future costs of not providing this important support to families now.

“We urge the council to reconsider their plans to sell the centre, so it can continue to provide a base for us and other vital community services.”

Bexley council aims to make savings of £220,000 from its youth services budget, but no definitive decisions regarding the implications on property have been made.

A council spokesperson said: “A decision was taken at public cabinet in January to take forward the review of the youth service with the help of the borough’s young people and service users.

“The review does not include the consideration of the future of youth centre buildings.

“Any property issues connected with the redesign of the service will be considered at a later stage, once the service review is completed, as part of the council’s wider review of its assets.”

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