In the London Assembly, I’ve been trying to get the mayor to help councils save youth services as part of my work on the budget and the police and crime committee. This is a serious and growing problem that threatens to damage young lives in our city, cutting down on their opportunities to learn skills and have fun in positive ways outside their increasingly crowded homes.
Using Freedom of Information requests, I’ve found that councils in London have cut more than £28 million from youth services since 2011, cutting more than 400 youth worker posts, and closing over 30 youth centres. My view is that the mayor has a strategic goal to reduce youth crime, and at Mayor’s Question Time, he has agreed with me that positive and early prevention is best, so I’m very disappointed he didn’t take up our budget amendment to help councils prevent even more cuts this year.
I’m working with young people and youth charities to keep up the pressure, and it’s been heartbreaking to visit closed youth centres and to see projects offering skills and social activities shut down. With young people low on the priority list for most politicians, I think it’s something we Greens have a duty to do – speaking up for our young people and bringing their voices to the attention of the other parties.
This isn’t just a London problem, and we can all help in our local areas. Unison has been doing UK-wide research and found as part of its cuts project ‘The Damage’ in 2015 that nearly £400 million and 3,650 youth workers had been cut from youth services in councils across the country since 2012.
Find out more about my work on my website: www.sianberry.london