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Barnstaple youth centre comes together to protest funding cuts

10:48 22 January 2014

'Georgies' vounteer workers Koren Williams and Kelly Spurway (centre) with young people from the Devon Youth Service

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‘Georgies’ to hold gig to show the value of youth services

YOUNGSTERS at a Barnstaple Youth Centre have organised a special gig to protest against council cuts to youth services.

17-year-old Kelly Spurway and Koren Williams, both volunteer workers at ‘Georgies’ youth centre in St Georges Road, have been working hard with regular users of the centre to set up an event in February for young people concerned about further potential cuts.

Devon County Council has already slashed its budget by £100 million since 2009, and Kelly and Koren fear that Devon Youth Service, which runs the youth centre in Barnstaple, could be vulnerable as the County Council attempts to find another £100 million in savings by 2017.

“We’re putting on an event to show the Government how much the youth service means to people,” said Kelly.

“The number of people involved is growing all the time – we’ve got 10 or 11 acts already signed up and people are coming from other youth centres as far afield as Holsworthy. There’s also more than 20 people involved in helping out.”

Kelly and Koren both became volunteers at the centre after finding help there themselves, and understand the value of the service to those who go there.

“It provides a warm, safe place for people to come and meet their friends and come and talk if they need to,” said Koren. “It’s like a home from home – everyone’s welcome and it offers a break for some people.

“I would invite anyone who wanted to make cuts to come and see our sessions and see what a difference they make. There would be a lot more trouble on the streets if it wasn’t for youth centres.”

The pair also hope to see local councillors at the gig on February 19, although Young Devon’s Andy Smith fears decisions may already have been made.

“It’s about raising that awareness that these things are happening to the youth service,” he said. “To have it run by young people for young people is great.

“Of course I would want it to make a difference but it is so difficult and I would be scared that decisions have already been made.

“I would hope that any decision to make cuts would be reversible.”

In response, Devon County Council stated: “No decision has been made yet about the Devon Youth Service or its budget.

“A major review launched last September sought the views of young people, youth service staff and voluntary sector organisations, to help the council make sure that youth services are properly focused on those in greatest need, and ensure that there are better links between youth work and other early help and prevention services. We will be consulting with people again as soon as we have proposals to consider.”

The gig will be held on at ‘Georgies’ on February 19 between 12noon-6pm.

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