Youngsters protest against youth service cuts

MORE than 30 teenagers from Portishead Youth Centre have pleaded with councillors over proposals to axe youth workers’ jobs throughout the region.

The youngsters protested on the steps of Weston’s Town Hall as North Somerset Councillors arrived for a meeting on November 15.

Several of the teenagers then spoke in the public participation session, asking councillors to think again over the authority’s proposed drastic cuts to the youth service budget.

Senior officers are recommending cutting the youth worker budget by 100 per cent and want to see �280,000 a year redirected to fund targeted youth support work to help vulnerable young people.

The plans would see all current youth workers removed from their posts and youth centres stripped of all funding.

Charlie Lane, aged 18, who has been attending Portishead Youth Centre since she was 11 and now works as a youth club volunteer, said: “Young people want a voice and we have turned up to show our feelings publicly and ask for reason.

“Not everyone wants to join a group like scouts or a church group where activities are organised.

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“Youth centres provide a vital facility for young people where they are safe and supervised by qualified and experienced staff.”

Also speaking at the meeting, Portishead town councillor Jean Lord said: “If there are no youth services run by experienced and trained workers, untrained volunteers may move in their own agendas, the extremes of which could be religion and political agendas.”

The young protesters, supported by family and friends, waved placards and chanted outside the Town Hall, before entering the meeting where they sat respectfully and applauded the speakers supporting youth services.

Portishead Youth Centre has recently received a �1million overhaul and is now used by more young people than ever before. It has in excess of 300 members and full-time youth worker Alan Rowe says there are new members joining almost every night.

The young people have vowed to continue to fight to keep their youth workers.

* To see a video of the protest click on the link at the top of this story.