Thursday, March 23, 2006

Save Our Centres - Good news!

Good news!
But please keep the pressure up as this is a reprieve, although a very important one as it allows time to get these centres used even more locally.
Thanks for all your support and keep up to date at -

Campaign HQ

Update on Youth Centre Closures - 22nd March 2006


The County Council’s plans to close youth centres are being revised to give more time to develop new approaches to providing services for young people in Surrey.

Initial engagement with young people, community groups and users has brought to light a variety of opportunities to help strengthen the county’s services for young people.

Time is now needed to explore different solutions for the individual centres and clubs, leading to firm proposals in the autumn. In some communities the solutions for providing youth services will be straightforward, in others a new approach will be more relevant, possibly delivered in partnership with voluntary organisations, community groups or other partners.

The review has exposed poor charging policies where youth centre buildings are rented to other users. By looking to increase charges, the council’s youth service will largely cease to subsidise other users. This means important funds will not be diverted from youth work to pay utilities bills.

Andrew Crisp, Executive Member for Schools, Children and Community Services, said: “This process has been extremely valuable. The youth service has a clear overall strategy but we must also be flexible enough to respond to local circumstances. There are some very exciting ideas emerging which I am keen to pursue. By giving ourselves more time we will deliver better results for each community and for young people. We will also have a greater opportunity to involve young people as well as other stakeholders in designing services relevant to them.

”One thing that has become clear in the debate about how we provide youth services is that the current arrangements are not feasible in the longer term. We need to change the way that our youth centres are run and how we are providing services for the young people of the county.”

At the heart of the youth service strategy is an increasing focus on working with young people on programmes and activities in their communities rather than being limited purely to buildings. Maintaining safe places for young people to meet will also be important, but more needs to be done to reach vulnerable and at risk young people.

The next steps will be to work with other providers and young people, community groups and youth centre users, districts and boroughs to discuss opportunities for the future. The council will be contacting them in the coming weeks to discuss options. The aim is to have a clear plan for each of the centres by the autumn. New arrangements will be put in place before ending the existing youth provision.

There will need to be local solutions developed with regard to youth service capacity and future direction of youth work. In some instances the initial review has confirmed plans to close the current centre but in others there are other options to be considered. An overview of proposals is outlined below. All of these are subject to further discussion. Future activity will explore options for:

- Banstead –increased community/partnership role and revising charges for users
- Bookham –increased community/partnership role in running the centre
- Ashford – increased community/partnership role and revising charges for users
- Frimley Green – increased community/partnership role in running the centre
- Leacroft, Staines - no change to current arrangements at present
- Thameside, Staines – close and reinvest in other facilities
- Sunbury – increased community/partnership role and revising charges for users
- Yo-Yo, Epsom – wider consultation to include the future use of Lintons
- Sheerwater and Maybury – no change to current arrangements at present
- Guildford - Stoughton and Bellfields – end existing arrangements and develop new youth service provision, possible new centre
- Byfleet – centre already closed
- Haslemere – NeutralZone and Old Fire Station – close and develop new provision in Haslemere
- Merstham – close existing building and develop alternative partnerships with other providers
- Englefield Green – examine alternative provision
- Chobham – cease to use office facilities and examine appropriate partnerships for the delivery of youth work.

The youth service directly and also in partnership provides a vast range of programmes in a variety of locations across Surrey including centre-based as well as town centres, neighbourhoods, schools and other facilities. This is the youth service of the future, in line with the government green paper ‘Every Child Matters’ and the future children trust arrangements, and reflects a significant strength in Surrey’s services for young people recently highlighted by the independent education watchdog, Ofsted.


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