Devizes youths on attack over service cuts
Young people spoke of their anger and concern when they met Wiltshire Council leaders in the wake of an announcement that £500,000 must be slashed from the youth service budget.
Among those who addressed councillors at a youth consultation meeting at County Hall was Emily Banks from Devizes who is a member of the town’s Youth Advisory Group.
But she felt the response from some of the councillors was aggresive and they did not want to answer the questions posed. She was upset that one of her questions was quickly dismissed by council leader Jane Scott and she was told to put the second question in writing.
Emily, 19, who has been using Devizes Youth Club for six years believes young people aged 18 to 24 find it difficult to get counselling advice and rely on youth workers they rely and trust to help them.
She said: “If Devizes youth club goes we will lose all the help and support from our workers, we will lose contact with all the new friends we made, we will lose a safe place to hang out so more young people may hang out in parks or on the street instead and be more than likely to commit crimes.
Emily, a former pupil of Devizes School, who now works part-time at the soft play centre Coral Cove, said: “The youth workers have helped me overcome my anxiety, they helped me find a career and gave me so much help and support when I was going through a lot of troubles. The youth service means a lot to me.”
Chippenham town councillor Sandie Webb is also worried the council will expect volunteers to take over many of the jobs now carried out by trained youth workers.
She said: “I am worried that this review is all about saving money and not about delivering a service suited to the needs of young people.”
Coun Webb, who has been very involved in promoting youth football in the town, said: “I know from personal experience how important it is for youngsters to be involved in sport.
“It is fine for volunteers to be involved in providing these services but they need to know there is financial support.
“It is all very well for Wiltshire Council to say fewer young people are using youth clubs but they should be looking at different ways to engage them.”
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