Posted on Monday, March 07, 2011 by Peter
The recent move to slash funding for youth service provision in the voluntary sector by Birmingham City Council has resulted in one of the main youth providers for Balsall Heath having to close its youth service doors.
Vulnerable hit hardest
Six youth service staff at the St. Paul’s Community Development Trust have been served redundancy notices as a direct result of the loss of funding. The Trust as a whole has had to make sacrifices to several of its services following a cut to a number of key funding streams announced in recent weeks but the hardest hit of their services has been those for youth.
The loss of £3million from Birmingham’s youth services budget was felt not only by the staff who will be losing their employment at the Trust but also in equal measure by the young people themselves and their parents. One parent said of the loss of the service, “I rely on these people to look after my children during the holidays. It’s not free but its affordable and it means I can tell my employers I will be in work at those times in the year. Now I will have to either take unpaid leave and jeopardise my own employment or leave them on their own”.
Youth Team Coordinator Sarah Gallagher at St. Paul’s Trust believes that the lack of youth provision in Balsall Heath will, “…seriously affect the area as a whole. We already had waiting lists during the holiday periods due to the demand for these schemes. We run these initiatives to provide quality experiences for the young people that their parents can afford. This area has a large number of people in work on low incomes who depend, or I should say depended upon us. Now some may have no option but to leave their children on their own during the holidays”.
100 young people attend the youth clubs at the Trust every week and this number increases during the summer months. The fear for many in the community is that some of the young people will fall foul of a diminishing gang culture which it is now feared will begin to increase.
Do It Yourself
For several of the young people at the Trust the loss of their youth clubs has resulted in them using the Internet to make their feelings known. Through setting up an online petition members of the general public have joined in the young peoples campaign to save their local voluntary sector youth service. Mrs Gallagher said of the initiative, “We often hear so many negative stereotypes about young people and it made me feel really proud that the young people felt so passionate about something close to their hearts. In a time when we hear so much about how this area sets a standard for others and leads the way as a vanguard community its shocking that a youth model which was held in such high esteem should be axed so readily”.
Organisers for the online petition aim to send it to the Prime Minister in April with along with a letter written by Amika Barnett who asks the question, “We have no other youth services in our area so it’s not like we can just go somewhere else. What are we supposed to do now?” If you would like to help support the young people then please sign their petition.
Tel: 0121 464 4376 firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Paul's Community Development Trust
Registered in England & Wales: 1429707
Charity No: 508943
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