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Young people of Sandwell demonstrate outside Sandwell council house over budget cuts to youth services

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The young people of Sandwell are planning to demonstrate outside Sandwell Council House on Friday 21st February 2014 at 2.00pm in order to show their concern over the 50% cut to the youth service budget. 

This budget cut is now affecting frontline services, with the closure of two thirds of youth centres and a reduction of almost 100 frontline staff such as youth workers, the service will be decimated.   

Sandwell youth want to be heard: “You cannot put a price on this service, it supports us when we have problems at home or at school. It gives us an avenue to get a break from the stresses of family and school life, but also offers help with what we want to do with our lives as we become adults.  

The centres keep young people off the streets and out of trouble, and stamps out racism as it brings young people from all cultures, faiths and backgrounds together.” 

The young people of Sandwell want to tell the Government ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, it’s not all about the money, real people will suffer just to balance the books.  The young people of Sandwell want to have a say on the changes to the Youth Service and they want meaningful consultation.  It is an absolute must that they preserve the Youth Voice through the youth councils and cabinet but also have a place on any decision making bodies. The young people need to be asked does the service meet their needs. A delegation of youth representatives will deliver a letter to Council bosses outlining their demands to be heard. 

Ends 

Contact: Facts on the Youth Service Cuts, Mohammed Khalik, GMB Regional Officer on 07957 265724 or for information about the protest contact Tasnim Bibi Miah on 07449 337112. 

Notes to editors:

Dear Darren Cooper

We are writing on behalf of the four youth groups of Sandwell to express our deep concern about the cuts faced by Sandwell Youth Services. It is our understanding that the Sandwell Youth Service is facing a 50% reduction and that this will have a huge and significant impact upon the young people of Sandwell.

The proposed cuts are, from what we have been told, are the closure of 20 Youth Centre’s, reduction in staff and some form of impact on the current youth voice structure.

We believe the impact of these cuts will set a whole generation of young people behind because we believe the youth service is the only means for young people who struggle with mainstream education to express themselves and seek their purpose.

Sport sessions, youth club activities and youth opportunities will be greatly reduced and a reduction in these will mean a reduction in the councils reach to engaging with young people. We believe the youth services outside of mainstream education is the first to have contact with vulnerable young people which can ultimately prevent a child from having lowered self-esteem and help protect them.

We recognize that this cut in funding has come from central government but we would like the council to carefully consider how they have to implement them. We think the following could help preserve our youth services:

  • Changing the times the entire youth service structure operates by centering the service on the times young people are available, such as the after school hours and the weekend.
  • Strengthening the youth voice to a position where we are not only consulted with, but we have the opportunity to work directly alongside key decision makers, so that we can together make the best decisions by considering both the adult perspective and the young person’s perspective in alliance.
 We have the following questions for the leadership of the council:
  1. How exactly will you preserve the youth voice?
  2. How will you decide what youth centre’s you keep open?
  3. How will you decide to change the youth service structure and where are cuts being made?
  4. When will we be specifically consulted on all of the above to get our say?

We have staged the demonstration today to raise awareness and gain attention for our cause. We will be working over the coming months to unite the youth of Sandwell around this cause and we would like to work with the council to establish how we can preserve these vital services.

A few of us would like to meet with you all to speak about the youth cuts, and get the voice of Sandwell young people heard.  Yours Sincerely

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