Time to reverse the damaging cuts to London’s youth services

CROYDON COMMENTARY: After a decade of austerity, it is long overdue for the government to fund properly the capital’s youth services, says Green Party Mayoral candidate SIAN BERRY

Sian Berry: at least £35m has been cut from youth services in London since 2011

London’s youth services are in crisis. Councils have been under pressure to cut vital youth services through a decade of austerity but, amid the devastating effects of this pandemic, our young people need support from youth workers more than ever.

I have written to the Chancellor ahead of the government’s upcoming spending review, to demand he reinvests fully in youth services as an essential part of building back better from this crisis.

I asked Rishi Sunak not just to fund councils to bring youth services back to levels last seen before 2010, but provide for a service that ensures every young person has access to local, accessible and appropriate activities and youth worker support.

In my work as a London Assembly Member, I have been documenting and exposing dramatic cuts to youth services.

In London since 2011, at least £35million in annual funding has been removed from council youth service budgets, more than 100 youth centres have closed and more than 700 full-time equivalent youth worker jobs have been lost.

Now is a crucial moment for the government to invest in the young people of this city.

We need to support those most disadvantaged by the current crisis, providing more chances and better opportunities for the next generation of young people to thrive.

  • Sian Berry is the co-leader of the Green Party, a London Assembly Member and her party’s candidate for London Mayor in the elections expected to take place in May 2021

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1 Response to Time to reverse the damaging cuts to London’s youth services

  1. Lewis White says:

    Well done, Sian Berry, for making a stand on this key issue.

    Among the partial or total victims of the cuts affecting youth initiatives throughout London councils have been the “Outreach sports teams” in many Parks and Leisure departments who employ sports-trained staff to go out on to the housing estates and parks, to teach football and basketball skills to young local residents -and arrange friendly competitions. Typically, the staff are young – 20 somethings- who are representative of the local communities in the host borough.

    Whether you are a young person of “white”, “black”, of “Asian” “Middle Eastern”, “Hispanic” or “far Eastern –or from a religious heritage, it must give you good feelings and reassurance to see people who are just a little older in charge, from your own culture— and also see a mix of people of different colours and cultures all working happpily together.

    Role models are important– and role models reflecting the diversity of our UK cultures and ethnicities must be good.

    Bringing the sport to the young people, on their home turf, also helps to bring a beneficial aspect of the UK state (yes, Local Government) into their local open spaces. Playing pitches can get taken over by anti social groups — so, regular presence from the sports team does much more than sport alone, to bring order into a possible no-man’s land.

    Also– it is important that these young outreach staff are paid in real money by the council to do so.
    They will never get paid a lot, but they need to be valued and also properly remunerated. A real job for them, and real income.

    It says something about that in the Bible.

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