Young people are urging urged Walsall Council to think again about its plans to close down Pelsall Youth Club.
Pelsall Youth Voice with Coun Garry Perry
Pelsall Youth Voice was launched at the weekend, following reports that the youth club would be one of ten across the borough to close as part of the local authority’s budget reductions in targeted youth work from £1.96m to £888,000.
Youth club goer Brendan Delaney said: “We feel very strongly about the closure and don’t feel as though we have been consulted about this. Is this right?
“Nobody came and spoke to us about the youth club and what should happen, and we are the ones that use it, so we should have our say.
“The youth leaders support us in ways that family and teachers sometimes can’t; they offer advice and help us plan our leisure time. They help us think about our futures and help us become better members of the community.”
Katie Palmer added: “We know the council has lots to pay for and there isn’t much money but closing places for kids is not the answer to saving money – it’s likely to cost more in the long run. All we are asking is for people to listen to us, give us a chance and help us save our youth club. It’s all we have.”
The teens have been backed by Councillor Garry Perry.
He said that Walsall Council currently provides direct delivered services to Pelsall, which will change to out-reach provision only should the centre close, as planned, from the end of August 2015.
“The group fully understand the difficult decisions councillors have been making regarding cuts as a result of central government budget reductions,” he said.
“Regardless of who the Government of the day is, cuts will still be made and undoubtedly this will result in less services being provided and a more targeted provision for those most in need.
“Pelsall Youth Voice do, however, believe that their views have not been asked for and they want to ensure that no decision is made about them without them. They want to provide a formal line of communication with the council and other voluntary and third sector organisations about the future.”
Pelsall Youth Voice has agreed a five-point plan that will form the basis of their discussions with the council and other organisations as they seek to secure the future of the centre.
Creating a safe environment
For young people to meet, access information, advice and support
Learning something new
Training and employment support, apprenticeship opportunities and equipping young people with the skills to apply for jobs and be successful at interview is something seen to be desperately required.
Opportunities to work in partnership
Pursue sharing of resources and support for young people. There are a whole host of opportunities to progress this further with the voluntary sector, local community organisations, secondary schools and churches.
Building better relationships with the community
Anti-social behaviour, perceptions of young people’s behaviour and listening to each other is seen as a positive. How can we tackle this together?
Growing the opportunities – targeting resources
Pelsall Youth Voice realises there is more to youth support than just a building. Opportunities exist and they want to be given the best chance to access them. Pockets of need exist in all areas, and in Pelsall’s case the centre and some services are accessed by young people from neighbouring areas with higher levels of need.
Walsall Council Cabinet members are due to discuss the situation further at its meeting on the 18 March, 2015.