A guest post by Tracey Huffer chair of the Ludlow Youth Partnership and Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East.
Shropshire Council told its 100 youth workers last week that they will be made redundant next spring. This is part of the council’s plans to become a commissioning body and cut costs. It brings significant risks for young people, including in Ludlow, where dozens of youngsters have been helped by a small team of dedicated youth workers.
Shropshire Council is completely fails to acknowledge the understanding our youth workers have of young people. It is ignoring the bond of trust they have built up with young people. It doesn’t seem to recognise the knowledge youth workers have gained of problem youngsters. That takes years to build up but only days to lose.
Of course some youth workers will transfer to whatever organisations Shropshire Council funds. But not all will. Many are part-time, just a few hours a week. Just the uncertainty and disruption will cause youth workers to drop out because they will feel that Shropshire Council no longer values them. In my view it doesn’t value them. It could also lead to young people disengaging with their support workers.
Youth workers don’t just provide things for young people to do. They help turn problem youngsters round and encourage them to use their youthful energies constructively. We have young people helping us organise the annual Youth Festival in Wheeler Park and the firework display on Gallows Bank. We couldn’t get that level of engagement without youth workers.
Once again, we are seeing Shropshire Council being driven by the political dogma of privatisation not the real needs of people in towns like Ludlow. If we continue to cut back on youth services, we are just storing up problems that will lead to rising antisocial behaviour and unemployment. The council should see the money it spends on youth workers as an investment not as a cost.