Farewell bash for Devizes youth club

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Farewell bash for Devizes youth club Buy this photo Farewell bash for Devizes youth club

Youngsters are to hold a farewell bash later this month to mark the closure of Devizes Youth Centre.

Devizes Town Council was told on Tuesday night that Devizes Youth Centre will close on October 1 and all youth work staff will be made redundant.

Councillor Andy Johnson, the town council’s representative on the Youth Advisory Group, said: “A celebration event is being held on The Green on July 26 and we are hoping we can bring together voluntary groups to fill the gaps.”

Councillor Nigel Carter said: “I have some regrets over the demise of this service.

“There have been excellent youth workers working in the Devizes area and they will be missed.”

Youngsters who go to the Southbroom Centre in Devizes will gather on The Green between 1pm and 4pm on July 26 as they say goodbye to youth leaders who are being made redundant under council plans to save money.

A DJ will play music and burgers will be barbecued as youth club members past and present share memories of the good times had at the club on the Devizes School campus.

Sources close to the youth centre said the last drop-in session will be on Wednesday.

But Laura Mayes, Wiltshire Council’s portfolio holder for children’s services, said: “Nothing has changed from what I said when the changes were first announced.

“Clubs will not close until an alternative has been found. There may be a few weeks between one ending and another starting but the clubs will keep going.”

She said responsibility for finding new buildings and volunteers to run the clubs had been passed to the area boards.

In May, when the cuts were finalised, Coun Mayes said: “If a building is incredibly expensive to run and is not really viable we will find an alternative place for them to meet until a campus is up and running.

“So if there is a village or church hall in the community where they could meet they could go there.

“This is a period of transition and it will be difficult but I am confident the service will benefit. We will come out in a better position.”

But Unite regional officer Alan Tomala said: “All along we have been very concerned that this idea of finding new buildings and volunteers was not going to work and we are even less convinced now.”

An information paper on youth services that went to the Devizes Town Council meeting on Tuesday said that three youth support workers, who will be caseworkers for young people who have additonal needs, will be based at three hubs, likely to be based in Chippenham, Salisbury and Trowbridge.

Countywide, the number of youth worker posts will be reduced from 144 largely part-time posts to 25 full-time roles as £250,000 is slashed from the youth service budget.

Youth clubs at Holt and Bradford on Avon are also saying they will have to close because of the council’s cuts plan.

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