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'Six to Fix' - 2. Youth Services

April 19, 2017 5:02 PM

Three years ago Wiltshire had 144 professional youth workers. They created opportunities and activity for our young people. Now the Tories have slashed that number to just seven posts for all of Wiltshire.

The Lib Dems opposition on Wiltshire Council put forward plans to cut other areas on bureaucracy and self-promoting communications to protect the Youth Service. The Conservatives promised that it would be safe in their hands. Now we see the reality.

Iā€Žn destroying our Youth Service the Conservatives have put forward no alternative model to support this important help for our young people.

We have such a plan to restore the work of the youth services without breaking the bank. This model has already been proven in Melksham.

There the Youth Workers were laid off and the Centre was shut. Local Councillor Lib Dem Jon Hubbard, who had already founded the Young Melksham charity to work with schools to conitnue the work of the old Extended Services service stepped in and opened a new Youth Club for young people to attend.

They then discovered that Conservative run Wiltshire Council were paying Ā£11,000 a year to keep the old Youth Centre empty, while Young Melksham were being forced to hire a hall to run the club in. Following discussions with the council, they eventually agreed to lease the old Youth Centre to Young Melksham who have now taken over the building and deliver youth clubs, counselling and support services to young people from across the community. They have clubs running 5 nights a week with, so far in just 2017 alone, over 360 young people attending the centre over 2300 times between them.

In one town, Young Melksham now employ more youth workers than Wiltshire Council do across the whole county. We want to make schemes like this easy to set up, and to roll them out across the rest of Wiltshire.

There are buildings run by local town and parish councils as well as Wiltshire Council that could be used for youth services. Large national charities have funds available to support young people. Qualified and experienced youth workers are available. Many local people want to help. We will bring all of this together in a coordinated way to recreate the Youth Service across Wiltshire.