Youth Centres Funding Cut

Oxfordshire's cutting funding from half of it's youth centres in order to save millions of pounds.

Young people in Oxfordshire have been campaigning to keep youth centres in the county safe from council budget cuts. At a cabinet meeting this afternoon, Oxfordshire County Council decided that thirteen out of 26 youth centres should be taken out of council control.

In a statement they said:

"Changes to the county's youth service and youth centres are all part of a wider innovative strategy to merge together various services relating to young people and families and provide them under one roof at hubs across Oxfordshire.

The changes would see a brand new innovative Early Intervention Service, designed to provide real focus on those children, young people and their families in most need in the county.

The new service would be tasked with dealing with issues such as absence and exclusion from school, young people not in employment, education and training (NEETs), teenage pregnancy, substance misuse and anti-social or offending behaviour as well as the traditional youth service. These services are currently provided separately from each other.

The service would work from a base of seven hubs across the county working closely with children's centres, our partners and providing further outreach services. These hubs would continue to offer evening and weekend sessions to young people.

The proposal is that 13 centres should have funding to continue to provide youth work. Seven of these will be hubs operating from Banbury, Bicester, Wantage, Didcot, Abingdon, with two in Oxford. In addition youth work will continue in six 'satellite centres' feeding in to the hubs at Blackbird Leys, RoseHill, Barton, Riverside, Berinsfield and Kidlington.

This will save on management costs because activities will be managed and administrated by hub managers rather than separate management structures to save costs and preserve more front line work.

Of the other centres not included in the plan for Early Intervention Service hubs, six are on school sites and positive discussions are taking place with the schools involved about keeping them open. These are at Eynsham, Thame, Chiltern Edge, Wantage, Chipping Norton and Wheatley.

There are a further six Oxfordshire County Council young people's centres where discussions are taking place with local people to come up with methods of keeping facilities running. These are Faringdon Young People's Centre, Wolvercote Saxon Centre Young People's Centre (Oxford), Carterton Young People's Centre, Wallingford Young People's Centre and Wood Farm.

Henley Young People's Centre is not owned by the county council but receives financial support and discussions continue about arrangements for the future."

Oxfordshire County Council's Deputy Director for Education and Early Intervention Jan Paine said:

"Hopes are high that a significant number of these centres will have a future here in Oxfordshire. This is all about everyone making the best they can within reduced financial circumstances and there is a lot of hard work going on to try to achieve just that."

Jim Cranshaw from Oxford Save Our Services told Heart the centres are vital for young people:

"It's about having a space where you can develop your personality, you can stay out of trouble, you can start doing positive things, rather than maybe being on the streeets and being tempted to do negative things. And those things are being taken away."

They claim there are also risks to youth workers in the county. Jim told us they play an important role in the young people's lives:

"The young people we've spoken to have said if all of the people who use the centres will now be out on the street they'll think they won't have as much to do, there will be temptation, there will be increases in crime, drugs and mental illness because of the services the young people can no longer get from the the youth workers they trust."

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