Councillor uses allowance to set up youth fund

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 17 December 2018

A newly elected member of a London council has pledged to donate £1,000 of her councillor's allowance to create a new three-year fund for disadvantaged young people.

Labour councillor Seema Chandwani said cuts to youth services in Haringey had let young people down

After being elected to Haringey Council, Labour Party candidate Seema Chandwani revealed the Tottenham Youth Fund would be launched next year.

The local Labour Party used social media to confirm Chandwani would contribute £1,000 from her councillor's allowance to the fund and that this would be matched by Tottenham MP David Lammy.

Further money will be raised through community donations, ensuring £3,000 is available each year for the next three years.

Like many councils, Haringey has cut funding for youth services in recent years, and Chandwani said politicians had let the area's young people down.

"In 2011, and also again in 2015, I stood in this chamber by the sides of young people who fought and begged for this council not to cut their much loved and much needed youth services," she said.

"Politicians have let these young people down. We will ensure no young person needs to enter this chamber again, needing to beg, and Labour councils protect their services.

"Decisions made by some of our predecessors have consequences, and none more so than the message it sent to young people that they were not valued."

Our newest Councillor, @SeemaChandwani launches the ‘Tottenham Youth Fund' in her acceptance speech.

A 3-year fund for young people in Tottenham where she will donate £1,000 a year of her Councillor allowance

This is matched by £1,000 a year personal donation from @DavidLammy

— Tottenham Labour (@TottenhamLabour) December 14, 2018

The borough has experienced cases of youth-on-youth crime this year, with 22-year-old youth worker Kwabenda Nelson stabbed to death in February. A 21-year-old man was charged with his murder.

Kelvin Odunuyi, aged 19, was also shot dead at the entrance of a cinema in the borough in March.

Haringey is also the borough where the London riots began in 2011. Yet the local authority has cut its youth services budget by 50 per cent in five years, research suggests.

A freedom of information request conducted by London Assembly member Sian Berry showed that between 2011/12 and 2016/17, the local authority slashed almost £762,000 from youth services.

CYP Now's own investigation in 2011 showed funding had already fallen by 62 per cent from £5.11m in 2010/11 to £1.97m in 2011/12.

Under the new fund, young people aged 11 to 19 will be invited to apply for grants for youth centres and projects in the Tottenham constituency. 

An Ofsted inspection report of Haringey's children's services published this week judged all areas to "require improvement".

However, it praised the single youth centre run by the authority for offering "excellent provision". 

The report stated: "Young people regard the centre as a safe space, and it is well placed to support further preventative work with them around issues such as youth violence and gangs."

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