My Word - By Ed Deedigan, of Kandu Arts - What the big idea for youth?

Youth workers and Devizes Youth Club members held a party last month to mark the end of the road of the popular club

Youth workers and Devizes Youth Club members held a party last month to mark the end of the road of the popular club

First published in News

With the warmest start to the school holidays for a long time, so begins the first real test of the community’s resolve in providing the shortfall in hands-on support for young people, now the youth service has all but vanished.

It may well be by the end of the holiday experiment it won’t just be the climatic temperature that has risen, but also the numbers of conflicts between disengaged youth and dissatisfied community members whose paths cross.

I am not suggesting that without the previous professional provision, provided by Wiltshire Council, all hell will break loose. Merely, that with fewer opportunities for safe and structured support, many young people, will be lacking vital, sometimes life changing interventions and therefore stand more chance of falling foul of the negativity often related to boredom and disaffection.

Throughout Kandu’s 16 odd (some very odd) years working in this beloved county, we have had the pleasure of working with some truly inspirational youth workers on projects ranging from multi-media and life skills, to youth offending, specific projects, and I can truly say that without those crucial partnerships, our ability to effect positive change with a whole cross section of young people across the county would have been severely hindered.

The council can take much credit in its support from many of its different departments, not only youth, but social services (including virtual schools) and sports, business and community development for our innovative programmes. These have been recognised at government level as being examples of good and effective practice, working at all levels of the community.

If the council is obviously so enlightened and pro-active on a national scale, how come it has acted with what might appear to be such short -sightedness in regard to the youth service locally?

Wiltshire Council, in its defence, has held off from these potentially damaging decisions a lot longer than some authorities. It has also been proactive in so many areas of partnership working, for example joint programmes with housing associations, such as Greensquare with whom we have developing effective community development programmes.

In all these areas the council has been successful in creating strong, sustainable and effective working relationships.

Whatever the propaganda regarding economic recovery, the only ones who are really benefiting, are the same ones who got us into the mess in the first place.

The poor and disaffected, those without political leverage, ie youth, are always the last to be considered as the national politicians believe they are least likely to organise effective opposition, unlike the highly motivated and battle-hardened senior vote. (Although the still unexplained riots across the country a few years ago, should cause them pause for thought).

The young, without a vote or a voice and now lacking the youth service as an accessible place for some solace, seem more disaffected and disrespected than ever.

Perhaps this is the ideal time to put Cameron’s big society, big idea into practice. There are already many fantastic clubs of all interests, for young people, run by enthusiastic and caring individuals, without them, we would be in a far less positive position.

However, there are young people from diverse backgrounds who, for a multitude of reasons can’t access these opportunities.

There are many young people with needs far too challenging for part time, untrained volunteers, to accommodate. These young people, are often the ones at most risk, what’s the big idea, for them?

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