Sheffield youth workers forced to work on streets

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YOUTH workers are being forced to work out on Sheffield’s streets – because of an impasse over plans to use school premises

The head of the city’s youth service has claimed workers from Sheffield Futures are having to take their clients to the Asda café in Parson Cross or engage with them out in the open after a deal with Chaucer School in Parson Cross hit the buffers.

Andy Barrs, Sheffield Futures chief executive, said: “Community youth teams carry out valuable activities in the area such as homework clubs and individual work with young people and it’s disappointing the school isn’t recognising the contribution.

“We are working with young people to reduce anti-social behaviour and increase attainment in school and engage with about 40 to 50 young people every night.

“At the moment, the youth workers are working on the streets or taking their clients to the Asda café who have been helping us keep warm.

“We are in a Mexican stand-off with the school which wants to charge what we think is an unreasonable amount of rent.

“The amount they want to charge doesn’t recognise the in-kind contribution Sheffield Futures is making as Sheffield Council’s youth work delivery agent in the area.”

Mr Barrs said a dispersal order was currently in place in the area, meaning young people hanging around in groups could be arrested.

He said: “Consequently, there have already been some arrests, so a number of young people have ended up in the criminal justice system that shouldn’t have.

“Preventing young people entering the system is a priority for youth teams.

“These people have nothing to do and nowhere to go. This can be resolved by the school being more reasonable on costing and talking to us.”

The school was given funds by the council to refurbish the former Wordsworth Housing Office – two old bungalows on the school site – with the work completed before Christmas.

In a statement, Scott Burnside, Chaucer headteacher, and David Bowes, executive headteacher, said: “We are in consultation with the council and Sheffield Futures about them using our community spaces. We are happy for them to use the facility and are just working to finalise details such as costs and times of use for the provision.”