We are writing to you as Cabinet Member for Children and Young People to oppose the decision being made by Westminster City Council to cease funding voluntary sector youth clubs and youth providers from September 2016.
We understand that councils are under pressure to cut ‘non-essential services’. However, our services are very much necessary to the lives of hundreds of young people. We give young people a place to feel safe and somewhere they can achieve outside school, whilst gaining skills they can use in the classroom, at home and at work. We support young people to develop their communication skills, teamwork abilities and to build resilience. This enables young people to participate and be active members of the communities they live in. The relationships young people develop with youth workers helps guide them through the challenges they face growing up in some of the UK’s most severely deprived areas, challenges which include substance misuse, criminalisation and radicalisation. Taking away our services is likely to result in young residents becoming further alienated from their society, particularly those who need help the most.
We believe that these cuts are short-sighted and will prove costly in the long term, as young people will be left without support and resources to deal with their challenges. Whilst the cuts being proposed will undoubtedly save the council money in the short term, the long term financial impact for the council could be worse. We would question whether this has been assessed as part of the council risk and impact assessments.
We acknowledge the intention of WCC to establish a Westminster Youth Foundation – but this will still be in its infancy in September. Without significant statutory resources, the new Foundation will be competing for increasingly scarce resources from trusts and the private sector.
We call on WCC to delay its decision for a year until the impact on young people of such a cut is established, and until a Westminster Youth Foundation is in place that can provide the necessary resources to support the needs of young people in Westminster.
Mesba Ahmed, CEO of London Tigers
Intaj Ali, Chair of Trustees, Marylebone Bangladesh Society
Geoff Biggs, Director, Westbourne Park Family Centre
David Bryan, Chair of Trustees, Working With Men
Michael Furness, Chair of Trustees, The Crypt Youth Club
Paul Lawrence, Chief Executive, The Feathers Association
Gabby Machell, CEO, Westminster Society for People with Learning Disabilities
Jennie Marshall, Chair of Trustees, The Avenues Youth Project
Albert St. Ange, North Paddington Youth Club
Drew Stevenson, Chair of Trustees, Paddington Development Trust
Graham Whitlock, CEO, Dream Arts