The youth services consultation is now closed. The results are being analysed and will be added to the website in due course.
Below you will find the general comments left on this page during the consultation.
We have to all remember that the 84-86% “targeted” work is conducted on a voluntary basis between young people and youth workers. Therefore if this 84-86% of young people (every single one being vulnerable) suddenly have their youth workers fired and new faces (however much qualified or a do-gooder) take their place, this will obliterate long-worked for (and also very financially expensive) relationships which exist between the current workforce and vulnerable young people. Consequently we will, for sure, see vast numbers of “targeted” young people “drop-out” of “universal” youth work as they are uncomfortable with such a radical and complete change of staffing. Many of these young people will be classed as NEET and their youth centre may be their only contact with the outside world.
Youth services review response
Devon’s youth service is cherished by young people and their parents and operates on a system of voluntary engagement that forms the basis of an extremely effective preventative service.
The service has, at its heart, the respect agenda. Young people attending youth centres are encouraged to be respectful in relationships with each other and in their conduct generally. It is an extremely effective and very popular, preventative service.
Many of the young people I have spoken to have formed strong attachments with their youth workers, who care about their jobs very much and have a unique role.
It is a different role from teachers and parents. They are trusted non-authoritative individuals that young people can confide in, about issues sometimes that are of huge significance. The role of the youth worker in these circumstances is to help the young person to resolve their issue, before it mushrooms into a huge problem, which may cause emotional damage to that young person, or end up police action.
Hundreds, if not thousands of young people have been helped to resolve difficulties and have avoided a crisis moment, or much worse, a wrecked future – because of the vital role and input of the youth worker.
There is an agreed uniformity of approach across Devon County Council’s youth service, so that young people in Devon know what to expect when they confide in a youth worker.
Importantly, ongoing anonymised records are taken of the category of problems that young people report, in order that the issues that are worrying the youngsters of Devon are monitored. This is absolutely vital and is also information that other services, such as the health service, can use to plan their own work.
If the current proposals are implemented, provision will be hit and miss, with different approaches to different problems in every location, depending on who is running the service, (if there is a service) how well trained they are and whether they can handle the difficulties that they are presented with.
In other areas of the country youth services have been removed and far from having a neutral effect, young people have suffered as a result. There is evidence to support this, George Downs MYP has the details.
I echo the sentiments of George Downs, who points out that until the social problems that are prevented by the youth service, are measured, it cannot be properly valued or assessed in terms of its impact.
The service is cherished by young people and their families. A professional, determined and co-ordinated campaign was launched the very weekend that the proposed cuts were announced, and a petition with a massive 7000 signatures, has been delivered to Devon County Council via a protest march on Saturday 26 April.
There have been passionate demonstrations at many of the consultation events and one 15 year old girl has told me how she cried when she was told that her local youth centre may close.
Young Devon campaigners have also created and uploaded to Youtube, a powerful photo montage, overlaid with messages about how much the service means to them.
Several community safety partnerships across the county have also objected to the proposals for closing youth centres.
They point out, quite rightly, that it will lead to an increase, not only in anti-social behaviour, which will put strain on an already stretched police force, but also the respect agenda that the youth service works to, is likely to be lost.
The community safety partnerships believe that problems like domestic abuse, alcohol and drug misuse are likely to rise. A reduction in freely available education about online safety, may well cause an increase in online bullying or online risk taking behaviour. Gerry Moore of the East Devon community safety strategy points out that the Devon youth service is much more than a universal service. He says that youth workers will carry out street outreach at ‘hot spots’ of anti social behaviour and that their presence on the streets at these locations has a calming and positive effect. Devon’s youth service is a tiny proportion of the council’s budget. Yet it has such a huge positive affect on young people’s lives – and on communities as a whole.
The likelihood of this proposal saving money in the long-term is remote and is much more likely instead, to fill up social worker’s caseloads. Either that, or police time. Those young people who don’t end up under the care of a social worker or get in trouble with the police, may well just quietly fail to cope, with their education and future prospects, seriously compromised.
Don’t be tempted to think that a “targeted service” which is likely to lead to stigmatisation of those who attend those centres, is the right way forward.
Please please, think again on this. And remember that prevention is better than cure.
The threshold for targeted youth work will become appallingly high. I wouldn’t be surprised that in the future youth workers will only see young people after they have attempted to commit suicide. Devon Youth Service at present intervenes early in the lives of young people, long before suicide attempts are an option for them. Many make the case that early intervention saves money, and yes that is true, but a shallow argument. The real reason for intervening early should not be because of money but because of humanitarianism or even common sense. In the current system, hundreds of youth workers enable young people to solve their own “small” problems, however if this proposal goes through, sixteen youth workers will be solving “big” problems for young people. The fact is that giving attention to the “small” problems of young people will drastically reduce those problems which can develop and become “big”, hence saving money but much more importantly avoiding human misery and distress. 84% of Devon Youth Service users are regarded as “targeted”, and this “targeted” work largely happens in the open-access sessions or other sessions which are informally organised in local youth centres. It is a crime that Devon County Council regards “universal” provision and “targeted” provision as mutually exclusive. In fact the majority of “targeted” youth work happens in the “universal” provision in local youth centres…and that’s the very thing they will be cutting – local “targeted” youth work.
Scenario, based on truth: At the end of a Devon youth centre session a young girl of 14 refused to go home whilst the youth workers were locking up the centre. Instead of sending her home, the Devon Youth Service youth worker takes her into the office to have a chat (just as any other member of staff would do). The young girl voices her concerns that she has been raped. The youth worker utilises their professionalism and expertise to come to the assistance of a very vulnerable individual in an extremely dangerous situation. It is not just the skills of the youth worker which saves this young girl, but the network and service which the youth worker works in and is associated to. Without the avenues in Devon Youth Service available to that youth worker, whatever the amount of training a youth worker in the new system would have, they would be unable to use these avenues and therefore extremely limited in the amount of help which could be offered. A future youth service needs to be uniformed, consistent and communicating (as it is now), otherwise there will not just be an inequality of opportunities but an inequality of security, care and safeguarding (as will be obvious in the council’s proposal).
I feel that the proposal to Devon Youth Service will withdraw the young people that really need are support, I think that with the new proposal to Devon Youth Service will make young people feel that is a counselling service not a youth service, a lot of young people have said over the past few months that the new proposal to Devon Youth Service will make young people feel that it is compulsory to go to a session with a youth worker were as before they can just go to a youth session join in with other young people have tea and biscuits and just have a sociable chat with there youth workers. So my question is with the new proposal how will you make sure that young people who need the help get that help before its to late?
If we abandon our youth we abandon our future. It is vitaly important we continue to provide positive and meaningful environments for young people to be supported in.
It is clear that the short gains made by this proposal will lead to a significant rise in costs in the future. This short sighted proposal fails on every front, young people will suffer, families will suffer, communities will suffer and Devon will suffer as a result of this ‘re structure’. So lets call it what it is, a political decision to save money in the short term and the spin that is so often quoted in the media and at the consultation events that it is the ‘best’ option available to support vunerable young people in the current financial climate is simple NOT true. I know that other proposals made by professionals who actually know what youth work is delivers a far better solution to the budget reduction whilst still offering universal support to young people, albeit on a reduced level. If you are serious when you say ‘we are liseptening to the views and opinions of the public’ and ‘no decisions have been made yet’ then PLEASE look seriously at the other models that have been put forward with an open mind. What remains of a Youth Service in the current proposal is simply a bolstering of social care and NOT a youth service as we know it. Councillor John Hart has said that their are “no sacred cows’ and all services will be in the firing line for cuts, but this is simply not the case. Some services have actually seen an increase in funding. It is time to stop the culture of a problem can be solved by throwing money at services that are struggling and time to start working smarter, not at the cost of a well run, highly professional and vital Youth Service, that does so much with such a small budget already. You say you are listening, prove it, and don’t desimate the youth service. This proposal saves such a relatively small amount of money for such a massive negative impact on our society. This simply CANNOT be allowed to happen. The future of Devon is in your hands now, dont make the mistake of putting budgets before people, ALL young people across Devon will be more vulnerable and at risk if you do.
My son attends the Bungalow Youth Project at Buckfastleigh as often as he can, unfortunately now not on Friday nights, as a decision was taken to transfer funding to Totnes, I believe. The project is well attended and provides an irreplaceable source of advice, education and positive stimulation within a healthy environment for a large number of local children I cannot overemphasise the importance of this centre for the children and wider community. These young people are at a crucial stage of their lives, where they need security, guidance and good role models. I have been greatly impressed by the professionalism and commitment given by staff and supporters who have worked at the project over the years to build the tailored service it is today. To throw this away would be a crime. The work put in to this and the other clubs facing a similar situation needs to be built on. What cannot be replaced is the experience and trust built up in local areas. These clubs are accessible and proven successful. ‘Targeting’ services, however well meaning, may be based on limited information from understaffed departments, usually when matters have reached crisis point. Little replaces good primary knowledge from within communities. Teenagers actually want to attend The Bungalow. How many serious problems have been countered by the service, unrecorded? Where will the children go? Back to dark benches in the High Street and parks? Funding is needed at the very least to continue to provide qualified, approachable and trusted staff. We are frequently asked to value and accept huge pay packets for leaders in industry, banking and government. Youth leaders of the calibre that I have seen deserve a guaranteed wage for the benefit they provide for the development of healthy communities. Such small investment now to reap massive future dividends can only make sense. The staff are the bedrock, even if additional costs cannot be met centrally. To withdraw this funding would let down the country’s youth wholesale, I hope a more imaginative solution can be reached by this government. It has become another major issue in its rising unpopularity with voters.
This is the most short-sighted, ill-judged and poorly evaluated proposal yet from DCC. If you remove youth centres in rural towns, what do young people have left? NOTHING! If they have nothing – what will be the impact? It doesn’t really require much thinking about to realise that they will be demoralised, they will consider that the adult world has let them down, they will feel much less a part of the community. The youth centres provide a stimulating environment in which they learn social skills, have fun and receive positive messages about crime, drug use, alcohol, health/well being, respect for others. If you remove that the ONLY outcome will be an increase in crime, substance abuse, lack of motivation, alienation from society and anti-social behaviour. The costs to the criminal justice system and the health service will far outweigh the savings. The long-term costs to the potential that our young people can offer in both social and economic terms will be even greater. If just one young person in Devon ends up in prison rather than going to university and going on to a successful career, the cost is huge. A few years in prison costs the tax payer 100s of £1,000s. A successful career can deliver 100s of £1,000s in taxes. This is the extreme end of the impact – a smaller negative financial impact will probably apply to every youth affected. That’s the financial argument. As to the moral argument – I would sooner the high salaries of DCC’s senior executives were cut and the money given to youth centres. Those executives can meet their friends in the pub or the bar in the golf course – they still have an option – but they are quite happy to remove it from our youth. It is brutally cruel to take the only real service we offer our young people. Shame on you!
The proposal to cut the funding is totally unbelievable. Teenagers are put under ever increasing pressure from exams, relationships, bullying – a difficult time alone & made worse with hormones. They need EASY access to a safe place with experienced, trained staff as often teenagers do not feel that they can talk to their parents. By taking these facilities away, I am extremely concerned for the well-being of these young people if they hang around on the streets they will be easy targets for drug pushers etc and more likely to commit crime and exhibit antisocial behaviour. As others have commented this is a very short sighted proposal.
we need this service ………………….no youth…………… no future and how long before ASBO’s are issued and all the administtration and damage to reputations this will have on our future
I work for Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education and I would like to share the invaluable work that Devon Youth Services have provided. I have been doing outreach work with a student unable to access education within the school environment but this meant that the student had no access to a peer group and was very isolated. The ‘inclusion group’ at the 100 club, Exeter on a Thursday has welcomed us into their group and given my student access to a peer group and something to look forward to every week. The highly skilled professionals from Devon Youth Services have also worked in partnership with Exeter Royal Deaf Academy delivering Drug Awareness Workshops to our college students. this kind of work is invaluable to our students who find it very difficult to access such important information as there is a lack of available resources for the deaf community but these Youth Workers have been able to come into the Academy and deliver really informative material and pitch it perfectly for our deaf learners but also pitch it at a level that students with learning difficulties can also access. Cutting the funding for Devon Youth Services will not only lead to many vulnerable young people ‘slipping through the net’ as there will not be the support for them in their times of need but it will also mean that the fantastic work that they do in partnership with other schools and agencies will be lost.
Please do not cut funding for the youth. service. Short term there may be savings but longer term it will adversely affect communities by limiting choices for youth culture. It will create a rise in gang culture as youth will have nowhere to go but the streets. This will create problems with crime and anti social behaviour. Please rethink and choose a long term view rather than a short sighted one in order to save money.
I feel that it would be a bad decision to close the youth centres as they provide excellent services for young people and gives young people somewhere to go instead of hanging around on the streets and if they have any problems/worries/troubles etc be it with family or friends, they have friendly and trustworthy youth workers to help them through their problems and I feel that shutting them will be a bad mistake.
I am very concerned at the proposal to stop youth centre funding. Our young people need places to go. I am very impressed by the Devon Federation of Young Farmers Clubs and the training that they are given in all areas of personal development. I do hope that this organisation will continue to get funding as it helps hundreds, if not thousands, of young people in very rural communities and the loss of support for them would be devastating.
A few questions. I am aware that at least 1 MP has written to DCC re the consultation – If that letter is not placed on” leave a comment” where would it be found for the public to read, our there other letters from individuals and groups that should / could be published to assist in informing debate ? Young People and communities have been involved in consultations and would like to see how these will be formerly reported / recorded can these be put on this site / section for the general public including young people to view and comment?
I have noted in my area alone that there has been a lot of publicity in local papers including Tavistock and Okehampton Times, North Devon Journal and Gazzette and Advertiser and when I venture beyond I have seen press in Mid Devon andExeter and even some on the Radio and TV. I have also noted editor comments and letters to papers will this be included in the process? Is there a mechanism in place to pull all of this together and present it both on these web pages and to the forthcoming meeting on the 14th May? –
I gather the review board are looking at including letters – it would be helpful if this is done prior to the consultation closing but in retrospect may have to do if a conclusion cannot be reached today.
I have not received an answer on notes from Community and young people meeting. It would be useful if these could at least be placed on the site to view and for councillors to have prior to the 2 meetings on the 14th may at 10.30 am and 2.15pm at county hall. I gather that press from across the county has not been collated, could this be done for the meetings on the 14th? I am sure Tony Parker as head of communications and press department could arrange this very easily.
Devon County Council subsidises bus travel for older people to the tune of several million pounds each year. In my locality, an informal walking group routinely use buses on their outings, although all of them have professional pensions and very comfortable lifestyles.
Contrast this with the swathe of young people in Devon who are going to lose facilities and facilitators in the near future in order that DCC can remove the expense of a Youth Service.
Targeted work is a sticking plaster that does not stick to the right place at the right time. The majority of people, young or old, move in and out of need. Family problems, financial difficulties, addictive behaviour, depression, loneliness, being the victim of bullying or abuse, all these circumstances can affect almost any of us. Adults find it hard to cope or to regain their equilibrium but at least they have some experience and knowledge of the world to fall back on: young people seldom do and the modern Youth Service is geared to providing young people with information and the personal tools to become positive and productive members of society.
The fact that other local authorities have abandoned their non-voting juvenile population to the best efforts of volunteers (who can never provide a comprehensive year round service no matter how dedicated they are) does not mean that Devon should follow suit. This is a shameful path to follow.
April 27 Continued: ….misguided. Youth Services in Devon must accept budget cutbacks for at least the next 3 years, and that these will necessarily mean major re-structuring. It is exceedingly likely ,too, that when the consultations are concluded later this week and the ‘proposal finalised, that Devon County Council will out source both targeted support and universal provision In one of the reports considered in the desktop preparation of the proposal itis stated ”Within the literature available , it is widely accepted that both types of youth work are critical and theanother ;publicatiore is evidence that young people, their families and carers appreciate mixed services, which include open access and targeted services”.;Can one not ask that even at this late stage senior professionals from the so-called Devon Youth Service and VOYC might come together, prepare and submit a joint proposal which could embrace the sensible community based youth centres idea of the present proposal, joint development of youth advice centres and positive activities and offer services through joint consortia of present voluntary and,statutory organisations and young people,(or voluntary organisation consortia as per ‘A Return to Ancient Truths’ -another research publication considered at preparation stage of the DCC ‘proposal’) ? The ‘Hub’ proposal put forward by young people and suggested by Clancy Stephens in her ‘blog’ of this series of comments might be a good starting ;point. An agreed joint proposal. will take a little more time, but kit will be worth it in establishing a fully integrated service for young people in the county and re-establishing partnership and trust amongst all involved.
James, just a point of information many voluntary sector groups such do work closely with us in partnership and independantly in DYS (DCC) buildings. In North Devon Young Devon use our buildings to support work with young people not in education employment or training also for young people in care or in transition to independant living. Many of our centres welcome a plethora of voluntary groups including young fathers network, young carers, adoption services, foster services. Centres also support a number of community groups from senior citizens coffee clubs and indoor bowls – to pre school groups. This is just a very small group of examples. We also support youth clubs in non DCC buildings and give grants to voluntary sector organisations including groups such as Wings.
Time is running out for the youth work re.modelling consultation and DCC’s new model seems to be relentlessly moving forward with no change apart from the inclusion of an important set of guiding first principles which any group of intelligent youth workers could have put together over a cup of coffee. Well intentioned,it may be, in parts. with its suggestion for re-rooting its Youth centres in their local communities if those communities can almost immediately and thereafter sustain them,but the proposal to allocate its skilled professional youth workers, who are(or should be) the mainstay of support for young people and their youth groups in the local area, to targeted work, for which they are largely untrained , ,
At present there is, as far as I know, no one waiting in the wings to provide the facilities that are being withdrawn in North Devon. I personally know of two local clubs that use council facilities for their activities and they will have to find other premises if the council close their current venues. Wings are trying to raise a vast sum of money for a youth centre, after help from a housing developer was withdrawn. Apart from Wings, where are the others clammering to provide youth services?