Eye-witnesses, including our travelling correspondent, Bernard Davies, testify to the strength and spirit displayed by both youth workers and young people at the Rally held in Banbury on Tuesday. The march through the town centre to the town hall was very impressive with up to around 80 people involved. An impromptu occupation, flags and banners waving, of a strategic traffic island was greeted with much tooting of support from passing vehicles.
There was significant media coverage with the Guardian carrying this report.
There’s great photo of the colourful march and some telling quotes from participants.
Standing outside the Bridge Bar, a youth centre, which is due to be replaced on 1 September by an “early intervention hub”, one worker described the anger at the prime minister’s decision to make the speech on 15 August at the youth centre in Witney.
“To go to Base 33 and give that speech and not even mention the youth services he was cutting was very, very hypocritical,” she said. Like many protesting she did not want to give her name for fear of jeopardising future job prospects.
Paul, who has been a youth worker in Chipping Norton for 15 years, said he had refused to apply to be a “community hub worker” and that the role of youth worker had been devalued. “They are going to be seen as social workers, there will not be that voluntary engagement. I think it is very short-sighted and before long it will come back to bite them.” His colleague added that when riots erupted in several cities in England, youth workers received an email asking them to take to the streets and talk to the young people they worked with. “It was ironic, asking us to sort the problem out just as we were losing our jobs – more than ever they clearly need us, which is why this makes no sense.”
One Sid Vicious lookalike, who was supporting the protests, said that without the studio in The Bunker – another youth club likely to be replaced – he would have never formed a band. “I’d be doing nothing, there aren’t any jobs around here,” said Daniel Capell, 18. “The people in there stuck their necks out for me so many times. It feels like no one will now.”