Shropshire Council has centralised youth support services and will in future be running a team of youth outreach workers from Shirehall. It is not supporting youth clubs which must now be independently funded from charitable groups or local councils.
Last night, Ludlow Town Council stepped into the breech and agreed to fund Ludlow’s junior youth club for the next financial year. This is great news. We have always needed strong youth support in Ludlow. The pandemic and school closures have put a lot of strain on young people who have been isolated from many of their friends and unable to benefit from social engagement with peers and their teachers. The town council has always shown its support young people and it is good to know that even with its financial income having been reduced this year due to the pandemic, it is still backing the young people in our town to the hilt.
Tracey Huffer, who chairs the Ludlow Youth Partnership, is recovering from Covid-19 and submitted a statement to councillors beforehand. She said:
“It is much more than a ‘youth club’! It’s a safe place where our young people can go, share problems, build confidence, build friendships across barriers, a place where they are supported and helped and guided by highly qualified youth workers and people who care passionately about youth.”
The full statement is reproduced below.
There was only a brief discussion by councillors at last’s night meeting. Councillor Ginger said:
“As a council that has any feeling of duty towards this town, towards vulnerable members of society, if you read in the newspapers about the effect than no schooling has had on the younger community, just vote for this… and somehow the council will pay for it. Just vote for it. Get it moving. Get it done. End of discussion.”
With only a couple of comments by other councillors, the council voted unanimously to allocate £7,892 for the junior youth club. Councillors added a caveat that if other funders come along, the town council contribution will reduce proportionately.
Tracey Huffer’s statement
On behalf of Ludlow and Area Youth Partnership, I would like to thank Ludlow Town Council for their continued support for Youth Provision and Activities. I would add a personal thanks Cllr Garner and Cllr Smithers who have helped hold the youth partnership together in difficult times.
But we are not out of the woods yet with regard youth provision for our area. As has been discussed at previous meetings, youth provision is undergoing a complete transformation through Shropshire Council. Funding for our youth club is stopping imminently. This will be a complete tragedy and hugely detrimental for our young people.
The youth club, which has been run with great success since the opening of OUR youth centre, cannot come to an end. It is much more than a ‘youth club’! It’s a safe place where our young people can go, share problems, build confidence, build friendships across barriers, a place where they are supported and helped and guided by highly qualified youth workers and people who care passionately about youth.
Youth Clubs are in my mind, the foundations, the starting blocks that hold all the rest of youth provision together. Yes, we need detached work, we need activities, we need youth partnerships, schools, colleges and more. Together these support the health and wellbeing and future for our youth and young people. The very essential and most important part of this is a youth club. To repeat myself, the youth club is the foundation and provides the starting blocks.
This is why I would urge the town council to agree funding to secure the youth club’s future for the coming financial year. Richard Parkes at Shropshire Youth Association is currently responsible for running the youth club and has years of experience and knowledge around youth provision.