Hackney Civic Awards winner says her youth club is in desperate need of funding

Nicolette Nixon, with children at Morningside Community Centre. Picture: Polly Hancock

Nicolette Nixon, with children at Morningside Community Centre. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A youth club boss who was last week honoured for 20 years of selfless work has revealed the group is down to its last £8,000 due to a funding crisis.

Nicolette Nixon, one of the three community heroes to pick up an I Love Hackney Mayor's Civic Award, told the Gazette she currently cleans the Morningside community hall so she can get a discount on the rent.

She set up the Gascoyne and Morningside Youth Club for the kids on the huge estates more than two decades ago, and was instrumental in ensuring a new community hall was built when Morningside was redeveloped.

Nicolette has seen children go on to graduate, become actors and enjoy careers in the music industry in her time.

But she says austerity means the club, which is registered as a charitable company limited by guarantee, is competing for every grant going alongside countless other organisations.

"I'm no good at writing funding bids. That's the real problem," joked Nicolette. "There's not enough funding for everybody and big organisations that employ people, but don't deliver the projects we do, get funding because it looks good on paper.

"We don't brag about what we do - we just get on with it."

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The hall costs £13,790 a year to rent. Like the whole estate, it is owned by Sanctuary Housing, and it is run by the Hackney Marshes Partnership.

As well as chairing the youth club, which sees more than 200 kids come through the doors during half term, Nicolette works in family law and is chair of the Morningside Tenants and Residents Association. She has organised financial advice surgeries for people on the estate, business training for youngsters that resulted in them selling their products on Hackney's markets, and organises the estate's Christmas parties.

"I have been paying rent myself," said Nicolette. "They charge £21.30 an hour and we pay £13,790 a year. We clean it to get a reduced rent. For £4,500 off I scrub the toilets."

She's not out to scaremonger, but Nicolette admits the club is desperate for financial help.

"We're down to the last £8,000, and I need to pay £7,000 in rent before August," she said. "It's not under threat, and it won't close, because I'll run it with my own money.

"But we're running out because of austerity.

"I have three paid workers and while I can do it for free they can't because it's their job."

Anyone interested in funding the club can email Nicolette on nnixon@scomo.com.