THE future of Westbury Youth Centre and services for young people are unclear as Wiltshire Council is making a £600,000 countywide cut to youth services.
The decision to close youth centres is one of four options that Wiltshire Council has drawn up in order to find a £600,000 saving in the youth sector. Consultation about the options concluded on 5th August and the results will shape the future of the youth service across the county.
Four possible consultation suggestions were: privatising the youth service; allowing voluntary groups to run youth services in school buildings; moving youth centres to the council’s new community campuses; or closing centres and ordering youth workers to assist voluntary organisations.
Wiltshire Council presented their options in the commissioning strategy for young people (aged 13-19) consultation, run by Wiltshire Children and Young People’s Trust.
Young people from Westbury Youth Centre recently reported to the area board on their responses to the consultation. They emphasised that Westbury needs a youth centre and said that young people wouldn’t feel safe going to other towns, and would also have to cope with travel costs. They added that young people have put a lot of ideas into their youth centre and want to keep the same youth workers, concluding they want to keep the facilities the same as they are now.
In response to questions in the consultation, they also reported that young people in Westbury want to have more places to go, want to grow up being able to deal with issues in life, want to get a good education and a job, and want to be able to understand their rights and be respected.
When considering the priorities for services for 13-19 year olds set by Wiltshire Council, young people in Westbury said they most value the priorities of helping young people do better at school, helping young people move into employment and training, improving services for young people involved in risky behaviour, improving services for disabled young people, and ensuring maximum participation and involvement of young people.
It is likely that the result of the consultation will be agreed upon at a Wiltshire Council cabinet meeting on 13th September.