Youth services – have your say

Devizes Labour Party believes in having properly funded, accessible services available to young people. We deplore the short-sighted Wiltshire Council cutbacks that stripped £500,000 from youth services back in 2014, and we understand that impacts on mental health and wellbeing from the pandemic have been severe.

Back in 2014, when nearly all youth workers in the county were made redundant and youth clubs closed as Wiltshire Council made huge savings, the community youth officer for Devizes, Sally Willox, surveyed young people to find out what young people wanted from any revamped youth service.

Top of the wish list from young people was a place where they could just meet up in the warm and dry and with a relaxed atmosphere.

Number two on the list was a drop-in art studio, possibly in an empty shop, and the third idea was for a music studio so young people aged 13 to 18 could learn how to DJ. Ms Wilcox pointed out then:

“We do have to make sure that any of these ideas is really going to work and safeguarding is in place. The starting point is to get adult volunteers and young people together but it is quite a long process.”

Devizes Labour Party would like to know if these are still the priorities for young people. We understand that 2014 is a long time ago and there has never been less spare money available. It’s likely that national policy will have to change before cash-starved councils are able to invest significantly in new services.

We don’t pretend that youth clubs are the answer – on their own – to the increase in anti-social behaviour that’s plaguing our towns. When we get to the point where gang activity tips into intimidation, criminal damage and crimes of violence, only a consistent police presence can be the answer. When will this happen? Years of cuts and Tory broken promises have hollowed out the police service.

To tackle the problem that has developed and deter any further serious gang activity, we are calling for a visible police presence in our town centres at night-time.

Have your say:

  • Is this the time to invest more in youth services locally?
  • Do we need more visible police presence in our town centres?

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