Youth leader says area strapped for cash
A LEADING youth worker today claimed vulnerable children in Suffolk are missing out on clubs and leisure activities because of a lack of cash.
A LEADING youth worker today claimed vulnerable children in Suffolk are missing out on clubs and leisure activities because of a lack of funding.
Youth provision in Ipswich and other parts of Suffolk was described as drastically under funded by Keith Jennings, the county's youth service manager.
He said youth clubs, availability of youth workers and services such as internet access and leisure activities for children and teenagers have suffered as a result of inadequate funding.
Mr Jennings, from Suffolk County Council, said youth workers were still not able to reach vulnerable and isolated youths in Ipswich and in surrounding rural areas.
He said: “I was quite shocked by the level of funding that was going in to youth services in Suffolk compared to other authorities.
“And this low level of funding has been consistent for several years.”
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Each young person in Ipswich is currently allocated £51 a year for youth provision, almost half the £100 recommended by central government.
Mr Jennings said the figure was even less than half for most of Suffolk as a whole, with young people in rural areas also feeling the consequences of inadequate funding.
Mark Barnasiuk, area youth officer for the southern area of Suffolk, said rural deprivation was an issue that youth workers, often working from the streets, were currently trying to address.
He said: “It's very easy sometimes to concentrate on the needs of young people in town areas but as a youth service we are also trying to reach those young people who are experiencing rural deprivation.”
The problems of inadequate funding were highlighted by a recent Ofsted inspection of children's services in Suffolk, which states that the persistent lack of funds detracts from the quality of provision in the county.
Mr Jennings said: “If you went anywhere in the country, they would say they don't have enough funding but in Suffolk in particular it's very menial funding compared to other areas.
“What we have to do is use what we have and do the best job that we can with what we've got.
“We need to work with young people to try and empower them to develop their own resources.”
Young people interested in accessing some of the provisions available can visit a new website set up by Suffolk County Council, www.thesource.me.uk
Are you a young person frustrated by the lack of things to do in your area? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org