Eden Tollington in funding danger

Eden Tollington has found itself in a “pretty bad position” after funding was abruptly withdrawn this summer.

Youths performing at Eden's Dream talent show. Photo: Jahaziel Elliott

Youths performing at Eden’s Dream talent show. Photo: Jahaziel Elliott

The community group has been forced to scale down its activity to stretch out remaining cash, which will run out in February.

Team leader and award-winning rapper Jahaziel Elliott said: “It nearly pulled the plug on the whole project, it’s really sad.”

Launched in 2011, Eden works with The Tollington Parish churches to help deprived youths in the area by running youth clubs and activities, including sports and music workshops.

A businessman, who prefers to remain anonymous, was the sole funder of the project and agreed to back it for three years.

But he moved away from the area unexpectedly over the summer, taking the funding with him just two years into the project.

Jahaziel said: “It was abrupt and put us in pretty a bad position.

“We really don’t want to leave, so we’ll find a way to stay.”

Stephen Allister, 18, lives on the Andover estate and hopes to go to university after his final year of college.

He said: “If they had to pull out, you’d just get kids on the streets doing nothing and then people would get into trouble.

“These guys are important, everyone gets involved and we all look up to them as role models.”

James Aidoo, an Eden volunteer, said: “We’re engaging young people where other services aren’t.

“If Eden was stripped away, it would be more costly for society in the long run if the youths got involved into trouble.”

The group has applied for various funding schemes and will find out whether they have been successful at the end of November.

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