Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/566/6887
Defend youth services
Youth workers, children's workers and play and community workers are organising a national march and rally in Coventry on Saturday 14 February. Coventry has been selected to host this demo because Coventry city council is proposing severe cuts on children's and young people's services.
Teresa Chalcroft, Chair, Community and Youth Workers' Union / Unite, Warwickshire County Council
This is a clear attack on the professionalism of children's and youth workers and must be resisted or it will be the thin edge of the wedge. Children and young people deserve properly experienced and qualified staff working with them which can only be achieved by maintaining decent terms and conditions.
Coventry council has spent a fortune on private consultancies, such as Price Waterhouse Coopers, who know nothing about the services they have proposed to destroy. They aim to save £300,000 a year by cutting frontline services.
These cuts will have a massive impact. They will mean the end of all existing services that provide after-school clubs and other open-access children's services. Summer play schemes will no longer run. Support in schools for children with specific needs will be severely compromised.
The council's proposals mean a direct cut to frontline services in the areas of the city that need them the most. Many families simply cannot afford to access expensive private services.
42 members of staff will be affected, with the equivalent of eleven full-time jobs being lost. Children's workers will be taken off the nationally negotiated Youth and Community Worker pay rate and conditions, which will mean the loss of up to £15,000 a year for some members of staff.
They justify these cuts by saying services need to 'refocus' to support 'integrated working' and have a 'preventative focus'. The children and young people who often won't engage with other statutory services require a universal, non-stigmatised service, targeted at the areas of highest need.
Quality services required
These children's and youth services are successful on the basis of being staffed by experienced and qualified specialist workers who can build educative and supportive relationships and provide a unique and highly-valued service.
Cutting these services in Coventry and across the country removes a vital means of safeguarding some of the most vulnerable children and young people. A 25% cut in youth services is proposed in Wolverhampton which would mean the loss of 26 full-time youth workers.
United action needed
In 2007 the country was shocked at the tragic shooting of 11-year old Rhys Jones in Liverpool's Croxteth. But ask any section of the Croxteth community what they believe would assist in turning the tide of disenfranchisement among young people and the answer would be more children's and youth services - not less.
Collectively, the Croxteth Park population are calling for a Youth and Community Centre for the area and are busy raising the £1.2 million required for such a facility. The fact that local people are having to raise funds in memory of a dead child in order to provide what should be core public-sector facilities is another sad indictment of the New Labour government and the capitalist system.
The best way to address the inequalities we face and deal with everyday in our lives and workplaces is to join together and fight together for decent public services and a decent wage for all public-sector workers.
Protest and Rally
Join the march on Saturday 14 February
Assemble 12 noon opposite the Coventry Council House for the demonstration and rally
Join the march for jobs
Thursday 2 April
No to youth unemployment
Youth Fight for Jobs
We demand a future!
See www.youthfightforjobs.com for details
In The Socialist 11 February 2009:
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review