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AXMINSTER: Teenagers in fight to save youth centre
Friday, 21 February 2014
Axminster teenagers are mobilising for a fight to save their youth centre.
Devon County Council’s (DCC) proposal to stop running youth centres went down like a lead balloon with youngsters.
Beth Stead (15) and Lauren Frizzel (16) are rallying the troops in Axminster and are pleading with people of all ages to back their cause.
Both are volunteer leaders under a qualified DCC youth worker at the Axminster centre which, they say, attract an average total of 65 youngsters on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week.
Beth and Lauren say that a closure would have damaging effects. They both stress that the youth centre is much more than a place to simply hang out at, “A lot of people come here to get away from trouble at home - and they learn a lot and can get advice on things like relationships, safe sex, pregnancy, the dangers of drugs and alcohol and so on,” they said.
Beth added: “I don’t think DCC has thought it through properly. What will people without support at home be going to do.”
Lauren thinks that, overall, the blow of a closure would hit much harder in a small town like Axminster.
She said: “It might be different in a place like Exeter where there are more alternatives.”
Petition against cuts
East & Mid Devon member of UK Youth Parliament George Downs helped launch a petition against the proposed cuts.
When asked what people could do to help their fight, Beth and Lauren said: “Sign the petition.”
As part of their campaign, they have set up a Facebook page, plan a local petition of their own and are seeking to involve leading figures like Axminster mayor Jeremy Walden and Axe Valley Community College headteacher Martin Smith.
The petition can be viewed at www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/john-hart-protect-our-youth-services-from-budget-cuts, and the Facebook page is available by searching for Help Save Axminster Youth Centre.
DCC is currently running a 12-week public consultation on its proposal, and a spokesperson said: “The youth service currently costs £3.7 million a year and employs 114 full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff.
“The county council has to save £110 million from its spending by 2017 and has consistently warned that all services would come under the spotlight.
“It must provide a number of services by law and whilst the youth service is not a statutory service the council is keen to find alternative delivery partners to secure a sustainable future.”
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