YOUNG people in Stafford will rally in the town’s Market Square on Saturday against plans by the county council to cut youth services across Staffordshire.
Youth Against Service Cuts (YASC) will bring youngsters from across the region together in the middle of the county town to protest against the proposed cuts to the current provision.
Lauren March, a founding member of the group, said using Staffordshire’s youth services had given her encouragement and social opportunities that she credited with helping her secure a job at Alton Towers.
“Staffordshire youth services have really helped me as a young person,” she said. “It's helped me socialise a lot as I really wasn't able to,” she said. “The youth services encourage me to come along and be involved, which gained me friends.
She said through her involvement with schemes like the National Citizen Service, the Youth of the Moorlands Action Council (YOMAC) and Youth Action Kouncil, as well as visiting a number of youth clubs across the county, she added two full pages to her CV, which she said she believed had led to her current employment.
Ashley Bronti, from Biddulph Youth Centre called the wide variety of activities and projects youth clubs had provided him growing up ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’.
“I don’t believe these councillors can just shut them down,” he said.”Biddulph Youth Centre has given me and many others an opportunity of a lifetime.
“I now work as a young leader there and I have seen the effect of youth clubs first hand.”
He said he and his peers understood the effect cuts to the service would have and hoped the whole of the county would notice the threat that presented.
Stafford Borough Councillor Rowan Draper, who is backing the campaign, said the plans were ‘outrageous’ and ‘a direct attack’ on young people in Staffordshire.
“Collectively, we must do all we can to oppose this,” he said. “These decisions haven't been thought through by Staffordshire County Council and it seems the consultation has again become farcical.
“Young people are vehemently opposed to any closures of youth clubs in Staffordshire for very valid reasons.
“I ask the local authority to listen to our leaders of the future.”
Trudie McGuinness, Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Staffordshire Moorlands and Director of Learner Journey at South Staffordshire College, said the services were invaluable to local communities.
“Despite Staffordshire County Council claiming to have listened to young people it is clear they haven’t listened to those who cherish the professional youth work they benefit from.
“The encouragement and direction we give young people now is critically important for Staffordshire’s future success, prosperity and safety.”
“A number of Young people themselves have made it clear to us that before the input of qualified professional youth workers their lives and prospects were going in a different direction and should these crucial services be withdrawn those currently using the services are worried about increased antisocial behaviour and gang culture, we encourage all those who value these services to attend the rally, respond to the consultation and have your voice heard.”