• Local young people devastated at proposed loss of Ottery youth centre

    18th February 2014 | News | Claire
  • Others said:  “It’s a safe environment” where they can meet friends.  And they were worried about being stereotyped as being “up to no good” if they were forced outside to socialise during the evenings.

    One 16 year old said:  “It’s the highlight of my week, I really look forward to coming here.”

    But youth clubs are not just about socialising with friends, although of course this is an important aspect. The other purpose of youth clubs is to provide important health and social education to young people in a way that really engages them. Youth workers are highly trained and highly qualified in this area, as well as in helping young people with a range of difficulties.

    One moment they could be dealing with a serious problem that a young person has raised with them, the next they could be running a session about homelessness, healthy eating, relationships and respect or alcohol awareness.

    “We had a homelessness night where we made homes out of cardboard boxes,” said one of the group I was talking to.

    There was deep frustration about the cuts. “I’m angry with the council and the government,” said another.

    “Youth club is the only time I eat fruit,” added someone else.

    One of the worrying topics for parents and one that the youth workers are keen to focus on, is the issue of internet safety.

    There are two computers available at the centre for looking up information and homework. Youth workers are keen to get across the message of being safe on the internet, especially when it comes to playing games and chatrooms.

    With loud music playing in the next room, a stream of teenagers make their way to and from the kitchen, with plates of food – pasta, toast and fruit. 

    The atmosphere is of excitement, energy and happiness.

    This Thursday (20 February) at Devon County Council’s full council and budget meeting, councillors will vote on whether or not to slash £970,000 from the youth services budget, which includes the salaries for 60 jobs.

    There is expected to be a big demonstration of young people who are opposing the cuts who will gather outside county hall before the meeting.

    The public consultation started a couple of weeks ago and continues until 27 April. Here’s how to make a comment on the proposals – http://new.devon.gov.uk/youthreview/

    The meeting starts at 2.15pm and will be webcast live here – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/

    Here’s the agenda – http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/councildemocracy/decision_making/cma/cma_document.htm?cmadoc=agenda_dcc_20140220.html