Youth services to be run by volunteers?

By Emily Pearce

Friday, April 18, 2014

 

Youth services to be run by volunteers?

Cllr Luisa Hillard.

PLANS to outsource youth services to community groups have been approved by Isle of Wight Council bosses — despite concerns volunteers may lack the skills and motivation to deal with potentially troublesome teenagers.

The council’s executive agreed this month it would no longer provide services directly, run youth clubs or employ youth workers.

Instead, the authority will allocate £200,000 of funding in 2014/15, rising to £400,000 in the following two years, enabling town and parish councils, community and voluntary groups to take on services.

The proposals will shave £200,000 off the £943,000 the council currently spends on providing services, such as youth and homework clubs and support services for vulnerable young people.

Executive member for children’s services and education Cllr Richard Priest said although savings were being made, the reason for overhauling youth services was to ensure they were fit for purpose.

"We accept there might be some buildings people are attached to but we have focused on provision that’s comprehensive for the whole Island — rather than hold a service together that’s perhaps not fit for purpose and not designed for the children that are supposed to be at the heart of it," he said.

But Cllr Luisa Hillard questioned whether volunteers could replace trained youth workers.

She said the youth club in her ward, East Cowes, failed because the volunteers could not cope with teenagers with 'challenging behaviour’.

"Volunteers did not have the skills or motivation to do it for free. We are really going to have to push parish and town councils to ensure an experienced youth worker is there to give volunteers the confidence to provide this service," she said.

Cllr Priest said volunteers would be supported and some funding would be made available to provide training.

Reporter: emilyp@iwcpmail.co.uk

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