‘Devastation’ as Horsham group closes

Stephen Arundel (2nd left) of the Princes Trust at the Ark. Pic Steve Robards SR1517652 SUS-150723-131931001
Stephen Arundel (2nd left) of the Princes Trust at the Ark. Pic Steve Robards SR1517652 SUS-150723-131931001

Young people and volunteers have been left ‘devastated’ after a popular Horsham group was forced to close this week.

The Prince’s Trust has been helping young people in the town who are unemployed or struggling at school to improve their self-esteem and work skills.

The national charity was created by Prince Charles more than 30 years ago and has been running a group in Horsham for the past two years.

However, due to cuts in funding the group has had to shut down its operations in town while the charity looks for other sources of funding.

Stephen Arundel, team leader at the Prince’s Trust in Horsham, said he was disappointed the group was having to close and announced all activities would stop at the end of the current programme, which finished this week.

He said: “It is an unfortunate thing really. It has been a really positive thing over the last two years and has helped over 100 people.

“The Prince’s Trust is like a last chance for many young people and we have had a lot of success stories.”

The group had been receiving funding from Northbrook College which in turn received separate grants from central government.

A spokesperson for the college said: “Due to changes in government funding allocations the college has had to review its approach for the forthcoming academic year and it is regrettable that Northbrook is no longer in a position to support the partnership agreement to deliver The Prince’s Trust programme in the Horsham area.

“The college continues to work with agencies in the area to support progression opportunities for those currently not employed or in education.”

However, Lisa Burrell, CEO of charity Ark in Horsham, which helps people through unemployment, homelessness and other difficulties, has been outraged by the news.

She said: “It is a nightmare. Over the last couple of years the Prince’s Trust has been operating in Horsham we have been able to refer some of the younger Ark family to them and they have really benefited.

“We were devastated to hear that there was to be no more funding for them.”

Toby Bunning, 19, from Pulborough, has just finished the final programme run and agreed with Mrs Burrell.

He said: “It gives people something to fall back on and find something they are good at doing so this is going to be a big loss to them.”

The trust’s Horsham programme is run by asphaleia which provides welfare for vulnerable adults and young people across the UK.

A spokesperson for the company said they were disappointed by the news but were working closely with the trust to find other forms of funding.

They said: “Whilst asphaleia continues to deliver learning and specialist support for young people across West Sussex, the loss of this funding will leave a significant gap in provision for young people struggling to access work or learning in Horsham.

“We are working closely with Prince’s Trust, and funding bodies, to try to secure alternative sources of funding to enable this much-needed provision to continue.”

A spokesperson for the Prince’s Trust added: “We are very concerned that this vital provision could cease to be available for young people in Horsham.

“We are currently seeking alternative sources of funding from the public and private sector to ensure that we can continue to help young people in Horsham get their lives on track.”