Time for youth to speak up

Wiltshire Times: Kaylum House is a member of the Wiltshire Assembly of Youth (WAY) and keen to highlight the potential risks to the youth service                (dv1215) By diane vose Kaylum House is a member of the Wiltshire Assembly of Youth (WAY) and keen to highlight the potential risks to the youth service (dv1215) By diane vose

Corsham School student Kaylum House, aged 16, is a member of the Wiltshire Assembly of Youth and sits on Wiltshire Council’s children’s select committee. He is urging youngsters to have a say on proposed changes to youth services.

“WHAT will happen with the youth service is far from decided.

As a young person and a Wiltshire Assembly of Youth representative for young people on Wiltshire Council’s children’s select committee task group that will deliver their influential evidence based proposal on the new model for youth services, I know the paramount importance of informing young people of the dangers still facing the youth service.

This proposal from the select committee is based on the evidence we have gathered regarding what would be the best model for the youth service after talking to those involved and getting their perspective, consulting with young people and looking and the logistics and effectiveness of each possible model.

The original budget for youth services in Wiltshire was £1.3 million, but after further cuts this was to be reduced by £500,000. However, after budget amendments by the Liberal Democrats were accepted, the cut stands as £250,000, but this does not mean the youth service as we know it will continue.

It wouldn’t be possible to run the current youth service on a budget of this size and so there has to be change.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing; here we have an opportunity for young people to influence the creation of a youth service that works for them.

The current preferred option by the council proposes a community-led approach where, in essence, extra funding is given to the area boards to provide positive leisure time activities.

However, as a WAY representative, I have concerns about this proposal because of the age gap between councillors and young people. If they don’t consult properly with young people, will we get the right services for us?

Also, as yet, I have not received a sufficient response as to how they will make sure that the money currently being spent by area boards on activities, etc, for young people will continue, or if they will just use the new funding and young people will essentially be losing out on money that would have previously been spent on them.

This would mean that the reduction of money being spent on young people would be far larger than the £250,000.

There is currently a consultation with young people around these budget cuts and what they would like to see in a new model for the youth service. Here we have a real opportunity to influence key decision-making and I am personally ensuring that the views of young people are listened to.

The other councillors on this task group are really interested to hear what young people have to say, as they feel young people should be at the heart of this decision-making process.

If you want to get your views heard on this vital issue, please go to www.sparksite.co.uk and fill in the consultation on the home page. If you have any issues that you would like to bring to my attention, please email me at kaylumhouse@gmail.com.

This is your youth service – make sure you have your say.

Negotiating changes

Wiltshire Council announced to staff at the end of January that youth services in the county were to face a massive shake-up and all youth workers were told their jobs could be a risk as it tried to save £500,000.

However, a month later a budget meeting of the council agreed to reduce the spending cut by £250,000, by using savings made by no longer printing paperwork for councillors and conducting an efficiency review of youth club premises.

The threat of redundancy was not lifted from 140 youth workers and a review of youth clubs has continued. A decision on four options that have been out for consultation since January are set to be discussed at a cabinet meeting on April 22.

The options are: To develop a community led approach; to encourage and support staff to form a Public Mutual Service; to outsource the service; or to retain the current in-house service.

During the budget meeting, Wiltshire Council leader Councillor Jane Scott thanked Liberal Democrat leader Jon Hubbard for his amendment and added: “This will make whatever decision comes from youth services consultation that bit easier.”

She said in January that the review was not all about saving money, but also about delivering a youth service that was more relevant to young people today.

A questionnaire has been written, to ask children and teenagers what activities they want to take part in. But some young people have expressed concerns at area board meetings about the possible loss of experienced youth workers, who act as mentors.

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