Concerned about the knock-on effects of ‘devastating’ cuts to the youth service in Devon, George Downs is campaigning to preserve the quality of youth work in the county.
His story was shown on ITV News West Country (W) in April 2014.
The 17-year-old from Exmouth is worried about the consequences of scaling back the provision.
‘The council made a decision that they were no longer going to operate services in 24 of the current youth centres and just keep 8 key youth hubs,’ George says.
‘This could mean centres either being taken over by the voluntary and community sector or closing down.’
With Fixers, George and his team are creating a film inspired by the workings of the board game ‘Mousetrap’ to show the potential impact of the cuts.
One of their worries is that changing the current set-up will lead to an increase in crime.
John Calvert from Devon Youth Service appears in the broadcast in support of George’s campaign.
‘I think the biggest impact will not be for young people who are having major problems, because they will be picked up by other services,’ he explains.
‘It will be for the young people that youth workers engage with on a weekly basis so that at the point where they start to have minor problems, the youth worker will spot and deal with those before they can become something major.’
James McInnes, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Skills at Devon County Council, also features in the TV film, to answer George’s concerns.
‘We have to save 110 million pounds over the four-year period of this council,’ he says.
‘No area of the council can go without having to contribute to that. The youth service is having to contribute over a million pounds.
‘We have had contact from George offering to get involved and we’ve come back and said yes.’
George adds: ‘In an ideal world all 32 youth centres would be under council management; however, we see that a compromise needs to be reached in these hard times.
‘Therefore, we are happy to work with other groups to provide a service that lives up to the work that Devon Youth Service has provided.’
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