The Oxford Ferment Bubbles : Young People and Youth Workers Gagged!
Matty Yallop from Carterton youth club, Oxfordshire, was approached by youth workers at his youth club on Wednesday. He was told that under no circumstances could he or any other young people talk about their plans to go to the public meeting against youth club cuts, which is taking place on Feb 10th, 7.30pm at Oxford Town Hall.
Matty is part of the Save all UK Youth Centres group who are campaigning against the proposed closure of at least 26 youth clubs and projects in Oxfordshire. The group have been talking to young people at youth clubs in the county about their experience of campaigning against the cuts so far. They’ve been inviting other young people to join them at the public meeting in Oxford on Feb 10th and the anti-cuts alliance march in Oxford on Feb 12th. Youth Workers have been instructed by senior management that ‘under no circumstances’ should they allow any discussion of opposition to the youth club cuts.
Matty is furious.
” How can they tell us what we can talk about to each other and what we can’t. This is gagging! We’re not doing anything wrong. The public meeting on the 10th will be attended by young people from all over the county and young people from every club will be invited to speak if they want to. We didn’t get a vote at the election, but we have a right to speak up about what these cuts mean to us.
The members of our group have already been treated heavy handedly. Nicky was interviewed by the police at school, because they said the protest outside David Cameron’s office would get out of hand and that he would be held responsible. Actually it was really good fun. No trouble at all. Nothing like all the scare stories about ‘rent- a-mobs’ and violence. The march in Witney with the post office workers was the same. It was like a carnival. Everyone was really friendly and loads of people signed our petition.
Why can’t Oxfordshire Count Council accept that we have the democratic right to oppose these cuts to youth clubs? They won’t stop us talking to other young people about this. We’ve been out in shopping centres with leaflets and petitions and we’ll keep going, even if they act like dictators with us!”
Haringey young people tell it like it is to the Council Leader
Dear Mr Goldberg,
We are writing to express our deepest disappointment in the way our request for a consultation is being handled. When we met with you on the 20/12/10 we were of the understanding that you wished to involve us in the decisions about the future of our youth service. We wanted to cooperate with you, we welcomed the olive branch offered and saw this as a good way forward in difficult times.
We have received a document from our supporting organisations that outlines the proposed budget cuts, point 60 shows that a decision has already been reached and a 75% cut to the youth service which plans to reduce centres has been decided. Councillor Lorna Reith has already outlined in her statement to the Journal what the council intends to do. We understand that this document was produced many weeks ago and was circulated on Friday afternoon, before we were met with to be consulted on a proposal that does not reflect what is stated in this document. We further understand that groups of young people are still scheduled to meet with the consultation team including ourselves. So we can not understand how you could state that you would consult with us and can not understand how you believe you actually are consulting us as stated in the document and in the Journal.
It stuns us why we have not been able to enter an honest and transparent dialogue about your plans. We may be young people most of us not of voting age, but we still deserve respect. We have fought a hard campaign using your rules of democracy with our inexperience already leaving us at a disadvantage, a fact it feels you were aware of and obviously have taken advantage of.
We as young people from your constituency, offspring of your voters, feel extremely let down that you are elected to represent local concern yet have disregarded the voice of local people. In a political era where the lives of many vulnerable people are looking to the Labour Party as its shield against the ridiculous entity we as citizens have undemocratically been forced to call our government, you seek it fit to sideline us with a façade that you are making these cuts and adaptations with our mandate. We feel that the consultation you offered has no sincerity and are very saddened that what we thought was a joint mutually respected relationship is no more than a cheap political tactic.
Do not make your local community an enemy at a time when we should be united, you are allowing us to be divided and history informs us that this weakness in any battle. However be clear that SHYC stand alongside the majority and have welcomed you to join the fight by a whole community and although we have had sympathy with how the government have imposed these cuts upon you, you have treated us with utter contempt and SHYC question the integrity of your true agenda. We are meeting with David Lammy MP on Friday and will be letting him know our disappointment and the upset caused by the way we have been treated
We urge you not to play politics with the lives of young people in this borough. We urge you not to treat us with disrespect by lying to us.. If you can not do this then we urge you to at least be honest about what your intentions are and allow the people of the borough to decide whether they still feel you are worth their vote.
It appears you have underestimated our commitment to this cause and we will be continuing to fight our campaign, the service we have received from youth workers has enhanced and in some cases saved our lives. We have the experience and the knowledge to know that you will not be making any savings by pursuing your cut to this service, you will be inflicting further expenditure and not just financial but the cost of the lives of young people. You have not disheartened us you have made us stronger and wiser.
You, Mr Goldberg gave us the hope that we were being listened to, we appreciated your support and genuinely believed you had our interests at heart, you earned our trust and our respect from our first interactions and we felt that we had come across a politician that was sincere. We have had interactions with many of our colleagues and have dealt with their patronisation for many years but you were different. We watched you on the 17th at full council when you gave your speeches and you gave us hope, but now we feel let down. The door is still open for you to work with us and reconsider these decisions, they are devastating to our future. Reinstall our trust in democracy and be the politician we hoped you were.
Matt, Lisa, Daniel, Peter, Abdul, Pareece, Cordel, Valerie, Symeon, Kevin, Trevona, Shauntai and the SHYC campaign.
Youth Projects under threat in Stockport
Copy of a letter being circulated to gain support against closures.
You may have heard about the significant changes to Services for Young People in Stockport. Within the proposed business plan a new Service for Young People will be created. The Senior Leadership Team of Stockport M.B.C Services for Young People outlined a proposal to restructure the service. The restructure will see the overall budget of the service cut by £1,000,000 from the current level of just over £5,000,000. The restructure will result in the loss of 37.66 full-time equivalent posts (five of these through retirement and the rest by redundancy), which equates to about 20% of the current establishment. However as many of the current staffing establishment working with young people in Stockport are employed on a part-time basis the impact will be proportionately more devastating on services that are currently available for young people in Stockport.
The redundancies that are proposed will largely come from workers who are working with young people week in, week out and this will result in many youth clubs and youth projects closing down. The proposed restructure will result in groups of vulnerable young people across Stockport losing provision.
We/I am asking for e-mails of support for the continuation of The Base Youth Project/Stockport Young Women’s Forum and Central Youth Fo
Comings and Goings in the London Boroughs
News coming through that the Hounslow Youth Council has led several protests against the closure of the Youth Service. Youth workers there have been told not to be involved but if protests come from the young people / the youth council it’s OK to support them. Croydon Youth Service is losing 50% of funding. Again youth workers and young people there have protested. However youth workers have subsequently been warned not to be involved in any action of this kind.
Meanwhile Kensington and Chelsea has been picked to be one of the first youth mutuals. As we understand it 80% of youth workers need to vote in favour for this proposal to go ahead. It is not decided when the vote is going to take place. The workforce has been told that, if it votes in favour, funding will be retained for the first five years. This will be achieved by the mutual being commissioned by the local authority, supported by central government as a special case. The strategy being that we will all be mightily impressed by their example. If the workforce fails to see the good sense of this subsidised ‘mutuality’ the service will lose 13% of its funding each year for 5 years. A balanced choice indeed!
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