The Independent London Newspaper
26th April 2019

FORUM: ‘Now you are victimising young people’

    Hannah Morris, a Camden Youth MP for 2014-16

    Hannah Morris, a Camden Youth MP for 2014-16

    Published: 14 December, 2015

    YOU complain about us dirtying the streets and then snatch away our safe havens. There’s £1.6million to be cut from the £5million Camden youth service budget and potentially more in the future. 

    This is unjust and unfair. You are victimising young people because we are deprived of a vote we don’t have a say. You can get away with ignoring our needs. 

    We are the future and we deserve respect; 16,400 Camden residents are aged 13 to 19 years, that’s 7 per cent of the total population and, over the next 10 years, this population is estimated to grow by 17 per cent.

    Young people understand Camden Council has lost half their budget from central government, so we are calling on the Houses of Parliament to stop these cuts and provide dedicated funding for youth services.

    Just to put it into perspective David Cameron has announced that at least £1billion from UK taxpayers will go to fund the “reconstruction” of Syria after it has been pummelled by British bombs.

    Many young people rely on their youth clubs as a refuge when staying at home becomes tough. 

    They protect young people, creating communities and second families. The proposed merger of many is like forcing neighbours to move in and live together. 

    Youth clubs provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and strive to promote equality. 

    Furthermore the workshops and sessions allow young people to develop their skills and often complete many creditable achievements, boosting CVs for later work life.

    One example is the South Camden Youth Access Point (SCYAP), a youth organisation which could soon be gone for good. 

    Recently they raised £18,000 to visit Bangladesh and help out in their community. This was not the first of their voluntary aid trips. 

    Young people were allowed to explore cultures different from their own, as well as learning the hardships of the lives of some and extending their generosity. Young people from SCYAP refer to their youth workers as family.

    Camden also has the highest numbers of young people in employment, education and training in central London (90 percent). You are depriving these young people of motivation and self-determination. You are undermining their success. 

    Across the borough council-run youth clubs will only be open a third of the time they are now if the cuts go ahead. 

    St Pancras and Somers Town is within the 10 per cent most deprived areas in England, yet it had the highest number of youth participants is Camden. 

    The COO-L programme will be eradicated. This initiative acted to close inequality, allowing those receiving free school meals free access to beneficial centres such as the gym, tutoring and the cinema. 

    The Under 25 Advice Service will disappear. Think about how many troubled young individuals it saved.

    Guess what? Youth violence across London is going up.

    Furthermore, our time ahead is already littered with unaffordable housing and university fees, in a world with a “living wage”. 

    Fundamentally all the savings made do everything but save us. Our generation is going to be one with an abundance of mental health problems and trauma, due to a lack of support and opportunity. 

    You expect us to be mature, but strip us of any opportunities which would develop these skills.

    We know that Camden councillors care about youth services but we think these cuts go too far and that the council should listen to us as Camden’s young people.

    At least give us the satisfaction of a proper say towards where in our service the reductions are made. We would know best would we not? Why is it that north London has the highest number of eating disorders in the whole of the country? Anybody reading this who wants to save Camden’s youth services, please have your say in the public consultation:

    We need to stand together as a community and a unit to fight for what is necessary. Please listen out for upcoming events and petitions.

    Many tears have been shed over the decisions being made and still no changes are being made. 

    I urge the government to reconsider the extent of the cuts proposed and protect young people in need.