Over the year Wembley Matters has catalogued the gradual disappearance of Brent's Youth Service. As concern over gangs and knife crime mounts the Council's answer to a question from the Youth Parliament seems incredibly complacent - they are basically told there are more cuts on the way and they must rely on the voluntary sector.
Question from Brent Youth Parliament to Councillor Mili Patel, Lead Member for Children’s Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care:
What has the Council put in place for young people in response to the severe cuts to Youth Services?
Since 2015 the focus of services for young people has been in the voluntary sector through the Young Brent Foundation. However the Council continues to run regular universal youth activities from the Roundwood Youth Centre in Harlesden. Alongside this the site provides education, employment and training support for young people through Connexions services.
To help enable all young people in Brent to connect with other providers of youth activities and services the Council has recently launched the ‘Brent Youth Zone’, a new, distinctive and mobile friendly website. A ‘search’ facility is a major feature of the website, together with information pages about health, ‘things to do’, personal safety, and employment advice. Many of the activities and services are inclusive, welcoming young people with SEND. Young people have been included in the development of the website. The logo was inspired by designs from a young person who entered a Brent-wide competition to brand the Brent Youth Zone. The website can be found at: www.brentyouthzone.org.uk
The Council as a whole must take further difficult decisions as part of the next phase of budget planning for the 2019/20 – 2020/21 financial years. In Children and Young People’s Services there are a limited number of services that could be considered for future savings and our continuing youth offer is an area therefore where consideration of resource savings need to be made.
There are proposals to change the use of the Roundwood Youth Centre that will build on the current arrangements. If agreed, the site would be used during school term time for an Alternative Provision school setting, with evening and weekend youth activities being provided by the voluntary sector. This will help meet the need in the borough for local places and preventing permanent school exclusions. Currently a number of young people temporarily excluded from their secondary school setting attend alternative provision out of borough and this will be one solution to this issue.
We are working with the voluntary sector through the Young Brent Foundation to make sure that services to young people continue from the Roundwood site and also that the broader Youth Offer across the borough is comprehensive, updated and secures charitable funding.