Essex: Lack of funds means youth awards cancelled

AWARDS which celebrate young role models in Essex have been axed due to a lack of funding.

Organisers of the Essex Young People of the Year Awards (YOPEY) said they have not been able to find the �18,000 they need to host the event this year.

It comes after an application for a �10,000 grant was turned down this month.

The awards used to receive between �10,000 and �12,000 from Essex Police but last year the force said it was withdrawing their funding because of Government cuts.

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing said Essex Police and Police Authority suggested he applied for the grant from Essex Community Foundation (ECF) after they had committed a �25,000 endowment fund to the charitable organisation.

He said he has been waiting since May to hear whether his application was successful and because of the delay, the awards were “well and truly dead.”

ECF said grant funding was in very high demand and the money handed over to them from Essex Police is to be used on a range of community safety projects for years to come. They said they would be able to offer �2,000 towards YOPEY.

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Mr Gearing said: “It’s a tough time for all charities. However, we have managed to hold YOPEYs in Herfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. The only one that is missing is Essex because the Police Authority said they wouldn’t be funding it and now we’ve had to wait another long period for Essex Community Foundation to tell us that they can’t consider giving us the sort of money originally suggested.

“It’s disappointing for us but it’s particularly disappointing for young people in Essex who we are not going to be able to be recognised and rewarded for being positive role models.”

Past winners include Chelmsford student Hannah Liddell, who raised �30,000 for Little Havens children’s hospice and a group of Harwich teenagers who campaigned against the unfair image inflicted on young people.

Mr Gearing said he had already raised �2,000 and had secured a venue to host the awards worth �2,000.

Caroline Taylor, programmes director at ECF said: “Grant funding for voluntary and community organisations remains in high demand. Essex Community Foundation is only able to fund one in five grant applications and we know how disappointing it can be when charities cannot raise the money they need to run their organisation or project.

“Essex Community Foundation works with a wide range of donors to channel funding where it is most needed and continues to encourage philanthropic giving among local people and businesses to increase the funding to support charitable activity in Essex.”

Mr Gearing said he would be looking to companies in Essex who may be able to sponsor the awards next year. If you are able to help 0845 838 2640 or 07711255675.