VOLUNTEERS at a Bognor Regis youth scheme celebrated independence day this week.
The helpers at Number 18 project marked their first day apart from county council support with a small party on Tuesday (April 1).
The event also acknowledged the 20th anniversary of the scheme in its linked premises at 18 Waterloo Square and 75 Little High Street.
Each year has seen hundreds of young people seek help and support on matters like housing, relationships, jobs and benefits.
The arrival of independence because of county council cutbacks has seen new activities added.
Jan Cosgrove, a long-standing trustee and acting chairman, said: “As well as all we have been providing, we now have new partners and ideas.
“Two young workers from a national scheme are based here, undertaking all-important consultation work with young people such as how they see things, what they want and ideas for their town.
“We have people from the Big Blake’s Art Project here also. They are involved with a Bognorphenia event on May 4 and will also offer opportunities to young people using Number 18.”
The changes will see the information shop and drop-in cafe open 3pm-6pm weekdays.
The sexual health clinic will take place from 3pm-4.30pm, Mondays and Wednesdays.
Plans are also under way to set up a morning credit union session for young people to help them to learn financial planning.
The problems of homelessness among young people is another issue which is high on Number 18’s agenda.
A child and adolescent mental health session starts at the end of this month.
Much of the work is being done by helpers with core paid staffing at a minimum, to show the determination of those involved to adapt to their new circumstances.
“This is not an easy time for many local young people,” said Mr Cosgrove. “Certainly at least as hard, if not worse, than at any time since we started.
“It’s well-known that we think the county council has chopped youth services far too much. And we are here to listen to what young people want and to continue to provide services, just as we have for the past 20 years.”
The project dates back to 1993. A group of councillors, youth workers and others decided to start a project in Bognor where young people could find out things they needed and wanted to know.