Wymondham education centre to close

Adam GrettonA valued adult education facility in south Norfolk is set to close this summer after a charity succumbed to a six year funding shortfall.Adam Gretton

A valued adult education facility in south Norfolk is set to close this summer after a charity succumbed to a six year funding shortfall.

The Wymondham Learning Centre has helped more than 4,000 people get computer literate since it opened eight years ago, thanks to lottery, local and national government money.

But officials from the Wymondham Learning Initiative yesterday spoke of their sadness at having to shut the community facility at Wymondham High School.

The centre, which was initially funded by the Department for Education, National Lottery, Norfolk County Council, South Norfolk Council, lost its core funding in 2004, but continued to scrape together the �30,000 a year needed to run the service.

The charity, which will close the learning centre at the end of July, has also been forced to cancel its outreach IT courses in Diss, Harleston, Loddon, and Hingham.

The facility opened in January 2002 in the former town museum in Middleton Street and was funded to give adults in the area the opportunity to learn and enhance their computer skills. Three years ago, it relocated to a dedicated building at Wymondham High School.

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Kate Wood, chair of trustees, who set up the project, said financial circumstances had forced them to take the reluctant decision. She added that the Wymondham Learning Initiative educational charity would remain in existence and its role would be reviewed.

'Like all voluntary-sector organisations, the centre has struggled with the problems of frequently changing government priorities and reductions in funding. The initial Lottery/DfES funded project ended in October 2004, but we are proud that the centre has managed to survive and flourish with great success since then.'

'I want to give a big and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been associated with the centre - our loyal and welcoming staff, the funders of all kinds, our various partners in the enterprise and the thousands of adult learners for whom we offered a real opportunity to rediscover the joy of learning, often after a break of many years,' she said.

Norfolk County Council's Adult Education Service delivered many of the learning centre's courses. Since 2008, the charity has worked in close association with several local housing associations to develop and deliver a learning programme for tenants and staff.

Judy Youngs, of the Norfolk Adult Education Service, said: 'We were all so sorry to hear of the closure of Wymondham Learning Centre. It really will be missed by everyone who has worked with the charity over the years, and especially by all the learners for whom they have worked so tirelessly.'