• East Devon young people:  Youth centre part reprieve welcome but concerns remain

    4th June 2014 | News | Claire
  • Here’s George’s statement…..

    This change in policy by Devon County Council is a hard-earned victory for the: thousands of members of the public; hundreds of youth activists and dozens of youth workers who have been critical of the original proposal.

    The dedication and commitment of campaigners across Devon illustrates the extent to which people are willing to go when the livelihood, identity and family of 12,500 Devonian young people are threatened.

    We hope that we have made it clear to the county council that it is a very detrimental idea to make decisions against expert advice and the needs of service-users.

    Let this be a starting point for the county council to improve their current model of consultation and finally put the interests of the people of Devon first. We call for the views of all service-users in whatever county council service to be taken into account.

    Hopefully, the response to the review of Devon Youth Service will serve as an example why the county council needs to listen to front-line staff and service experts. However, this is not a time for complacency. Thousands of Devon’s young people will still be put at risk by this updated proposal.

    In my district of East Devon, only one out of the five current youth centres will remain. Communities will be hit by these losses so it is vital not to solely celebrate but to use this announcement as encouragement for further campaigning. This will, with hope, show that young people can make a difference if they unite and rally behind a common goal in the face of damaging authoritative decisions.

    Here’s the Devon County Council press release (and pasted below)  – http://www.devonnewscentre.info/youth-work-in-devon-to-continue-from-local-hubs/

    Devon will retain a professional youth work service and eight area-based youth centre hubs if new proposals are agreed next week (Wednesday 11 June).

    The final decision is also expected to include extra funding for communities to help them develop their own local youth offer using council buildings and other assets.

    A separate exercise later in the year will consider possible ways to deliver the retained service.

    The new service model follows a major review of the Devon Youth Service and extensive public engagement and consultation which ended in April.

    The local hubs are likely to be based in Exeter, Exmouth, Bideford, Barnstaple, Newton Abbot, Tiverton, Totnes and Okehampton.

    The 10-month review aimed to ensure the county council’s reducing resources were being used most effectively to target and support the most vulnerable young people and that youth workers were fully integrated into the wide range of other early help services for children and young people across the county.

    A proposal for the council to withdraw completely from all universal youth provision, including all 32 existing Devon youth centres, and reduce staff numbers from 114 FTE (full-time equivalent) to 33 FTE was put out for consultation in February 2014.

    As part of the exercise, communities were encouraged to come forward with alternative ideas of their own to make best use of council youth centre buildings and other assets and asked how the council could best support this.

    Over 100 formal expressions of interest were received from voluntary groups and communities interested in helping to develop local community-based provision including several proposals for running county-wide universal services. A proposal was also received from staff interested in developing a staff mutual.

    The new model now proposes the retention of 53.5 FTE staff working both in a targeted role with the most vulnerable and running open-access sessions.

    These will operate from eight strategically placed youth hubs with one in each district/city area.

    The service will also be tasked with helping to further develop local youth work networks and support local community provision.

    Outreach and mobile services will continue along with the Youth Participation and REACH teams and support will continue for the Duke of Edinburgh programme, Young Farmers, peer education and the Chances educational support service.

    £100,000 will also to be available for advice and infrastructure support with a further £200,000 for one-off community start up and seed funding grants to help communities develop local provision for young people.

    Announcing the new model, Devon’s Cabinet Member for young people,  James McInnes, said:

    “This council is fully committed to continuing to protect, nurture and support our young people and we fully recognise the value of local youth services to our communities.

    “But with public funding getting ever tighter, we have no choice but to look very carefully at everything we do and to make sure we get the most from every penny we spend.

    “For the Devon youth service not to wither away over time we have to be creative and bold in order to keep what is most important whilst putting things on a more sustainable basis.

    “I would especially like to thank everyone who has taken part in this important debate and praise the many groups and communities that have come forwards with positive ideas and suggestions.

    “We have listened very carefully.

    “Open-access youth centres are not a statutory function and improving our targeted early intervention work with the most vulnerable young people has to be the top priority.

    “But we also recognise the important role that open-access provision has for many communities as part of the broader network of local support for young people and we wish to help support and encourage this.

    “I believe our solution offers the best opportunity to both target our limited resources on the most vulnerable whilst harnessing the capacity and expertise of a professional youth service to help build local networks and support the development of local community based provision.”

    Photograph, with thanks to Terry Ife, Archant Newspapers.