Fears for the future of village youth work

VOLUNTEERS who have worked tirelessly to ensure youth work continues in Pill and Easton-in-Gordano fear their efforts could be thwarted if funding runs out in September.

Since April, the Pill and District Children and Young People’s Partnership has had in place agreements with two organisations to provide youth work in the villages.

The partnership was created by volunteers from Pill and Easton-in-Gordano following news North Somerset Council would stop funding general youth work across the district from April.

The volunteers secured �7,000 from the unitary authority and �15,000 from the parish council to allow it to commission organisations, Youth Outreach and Inspire, to run sessions for six months for young people at the youth centre in Church Place, the resource centre in Baltic Place and at the play pod and multi-use games area at Watchhouse Hill. However, this money will run out in September, which could result in notice having to be given to Inspire and Youth Outreach in July.

The partnership plans to put in a bid for money from North Somerset Council’s �250,000 innovation fund but this is only available for new projects rather than ongoing youth work. The council will also not make a decision on where the funding will go until August.

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Partnership chairman Kevin Stone, said: “We can only gain from that if we can demonstrate that we are going to put on individual projects.

“Those will then be difficult to run if we have not got the staff in place.

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“We are carrying out our own fundraising to try to pay staffing costs.

“The difficulty is you may need different staff for different projects which means young people won’t build up relationships with them.

“The council wants us to go to charities and organisations for other money but everybody else will be too.”

North Somerset councillor for Pill, Donald Davies, has taken up the issue with the authority.

He said: “It is perfectly well to have projects but unless you have got the underlying youth work then it won’t all fit together.

“Even if there was a lot of other funding around, organisations don’t want to pay staff costs because of council cuts.

“I can see youth workers disappearing altogether by the end of this year.”

* Anyone wishing to help the partnership’s work can call secretary Joanna Burt on 07905 523026.

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