It’s a big mistake to cut youth services

Reagan Denton with youngsters and supporters at De Hood boxing club
Reagan Denton with youngsters and supporters at De Hood boxing club
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I was interested to read the account on the Annual Conference of the Youth Parliament and the policies they debated, especially the call for the government to take action to stop youth services being cut.

It’s no good people pointing out that in the past the young made their own amusement and that society wasn’t expected to provide support for those whose families or individuals who could not cope with life’s difficulties or who were hell bent on being antisocial. The young people haven’t changed but society certainly has. If parents now give the freedom to their children that I enjoyed the Social Services would quickly get involved.

If your face didn’t fit there were ways of escaping your tormentors. Not now when you can be trolled wherever you go. When your worth as a person is seen in terms of your material assets is it any wonder that mental health problems are increasing? And when young people are constantly told their life chances are nil because of the circumstances of their birth is it any wonder that some feel totally alienated from it?

Anyone who has managed to engage with a disruptive or disturbed young person usually finds there is a really decent, and often surprisingly talented, individual hiding behind a shield they’ve erected to protect themselves. No matter that they cause damage to others, it’s how they cope.

Cutting youth services is a mistake as prevention is cheaper than correcting any damage done – and I’m thinking of the victims as well as the perpetrators.

It’s shortsighted to think that money should be saved in this way. It also indicates a lack of understanding on the many competing influences that act upon our young people today.

If we need an example of how to engage the disaffected what about looking at the work done by De Hood? Not only does it help people with a range of problems including mental health and addiction, problems it’s been reported that there has been a 60 per cent decrease in crime in the area. It’s doing a lot right if it’s achieved this.

And it must be helping the police budget as well – and making savings to the NHS and to the council’s social care budget.

Why is its future still in doubt when what it’s asking for are premises that allow it to continue?

The Youth Parliament calls upon the Government to take action to stop the cuts to youth services. The local delegates should first also calling on the Council to ensure De Hood’s survival.

They would then have a case study to present, showing how violent crimes and mental health problems can be effectively addressed.

A properly funded Youth Service can do the same.

B Masters

High Storrs, Sheffield