DROP-IN: Trust will do what it can

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Your report on the plight of Wooler Drop-In Centre may have given some the impression that its problems have been created by the Glendale Gateway Trust (GGT) charging it rent for the premises, (Northumberland Gazette, December 29).

The reality is rather different.

The GGT took over the redundant Mechanics Institute building in Wooler High Street back in 1997. The building was offered to the parish council, but it didn’t want to take on such a liability.

We paid off the £5,000 of debts, then raised £40,000 to refurbish the building for use as a drop-in centre for young people.

For the next 15 years we charged £1 a year rent. This was during a period when we were getting core funding for our community activities.

When this funding dried up six or seven years ago we were obliged to reassess all our activities, and from 2013 charged it what is probably the lowest rent per square foot in the High Street.

As landlords, we are responsible for the fabric of this ageing building. Currently, essential stonework and roof repairs are likely to cost over £2,000 in the coming months. The drop-in won’t have to pay a penny towards this.

I understand the rent we currently charge is around 10 per cent of its budget so it’s hardly the main issue in its funding crisis.

Our trustees are keen to ensure proper services for young people in Glendale and will do what we can to help.

We are proud of our record of support in the past; it would be helpful if others – private, public or whatever – could be prevailed upon to help provide and sustain what is a vital service to our community.

Frank Mansfield,

Chairman, Glendale Gateway Trust