Council scraps youth clubs in favour of detached workers

Shropshire Council is to axe its funding for youth clubs as part of a £365,000 overhaul of youth services.

Shropshire Council will take on six detached youth workers. Picture: Shropshire Council
Shropshire Council will take on six detached youth workers. Picture: Shropshire Council

The Conservative-run council is asking town and parish councils to take over the cost of running youth clubs and will instead fund a team of six detached youth workers to offer support to young people in schools and on the street.

The new model of service delivery will see the council recruit a strategic lead for youth support, who will manage a team of three qualified youth workers, to cover the north, south and central areas of the county. They will manage teams of part-time youth workers.

Four town councils and two parish councils will be expected to keep universal youth clubs open and Shropshire Council has said that it will also look into the possibility of charities running the groups.

“I firmly believe that this new approach to youth support is the best and right one,” said Shropshire Council’s children’s services cabinet member Ed Potter.

“A great deal of time and work has been spent agreeing this new model and making sure it’s the best way forward for the council and, most importantly, our young people.”

He added: “With an increase in youth crime, exploitation and demand on children’s social care, there is a growing focus nationally on the work councils need to undertake to ensure the most vulnerable young people can access and receive the support they need.

“This new model will enable us to build a trusted and appropriate network of youth support across Shropshire.”

The youth services plans were agreed by members of Shropshire Council’s cabinet in January and ratified by its performance management scrutiny committee this week.

The new model will be phased in to give town and parish councils as well as youth charities time to finalise their plans for running youth clubs.

Town and parish councils as well as charities and members of the public were among groups to also oppose the plans, during a consultation last year on the future of youth services in the county.

More than a third (36 per cent) of respondents objected to the council’s new model for youth services. A key concern was that the move would lead to the closure of youth clubs.

Other concerns were that the detached team is too small and there is not enough focus on universal, open-access provision.

Over-reliance on town and parish councils was also cited as a worry.

One member of the public said: “Sounds like an unachievable model for only six people to carry out. Shropshire is a large rural county – how can six people cover such a large area and provide support to youth on a regular basis?”

Among youth groups consulted one said: “There is much evidence that regular, trusted, professional engagement in safe venues (e.g. youth clubs) for seven- to 20-year-olds works for vulnerable young people and as prevention of young people becoming vulnerable later.”

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