Monday, 27 April 2009

Youngsters left voiceless in Llantwit Fardre by council youth club takeover

Most people would agree that young people need facilities to keep them occupied and to give them a place to go outside of school hours. Until recently the Llantwit Fardre Young Peoples Project (LLYPS) operated two nights a week out of the Garth Olwg Youth Centre. RCT Council's in house youth provision ran on two other nights of the week.

I met with the project shortly before its agreement with RCT Council was annulled by the Labour-run Local Authority. In the same week the Council Leader was speaking in his capacity as a member of the Police Authority, saying money was being made available for youth projects! As Council Leader, Cllr Roberts was ending the provision of a succesful youth service at Llantwit Fardre.

LLYPS has been praised by local police officers because they had contributed to the reduction of so-called "anti-social behaviour" and crime in the area through their street-based youth work. A success story! LLYPS also offered people the opportunity to improve, for example through the Duke of Edinburgh award.

LLYPS was a specialised service run by volunteers as a charity. Young people could dress as they wanted to, play music and generally be themselves. This contrasted with the council-run nights which were described as being much more strict- and not as well attended. Young people described some staff members at the Council-run nights as “walking around like security guards”.

RCT Council have now taken over all nights at the Garth Olwg Youth Centre, cancelling the LLYPS provision with no consultation and an inadequate explanation. The voices of the young people were not heard. I wrote to the Children's Commissioner for Wales, who said that he was unable to intervene in a specific Local Authority decision. There is a danger now that the poorly attended Council-run nights at the Youth Centre will not meet the needs of the youth in the area.
For now, Rachel Brydon who used to run LLYPS is continuing her work as a street-based youth worker. But LLYPS needs the use of a building. RCT has let down the young people in the Llantwit Fardre and Church Village areas, and they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.

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