New youth workers to help solve suburban problems

Councillors spending on new youth workers for some communities
Councillors spending on new youth workers for some communities
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Two part time youth workers will be employed later this summer to help find replacements for some of the services lost as a result of austerity cuts by Barnsley Council in recent years.

But councillors in the northern part of Barnsley where they will work have been warned they will not have the time to operate in the traditional ‘on the ground’ way, but will be more involved in finding exactly how young people in the district would like to spend their time and trying to link them up with organisations providing suitable activities.

The two ‘youth participation worker’ jobs are currently being advertised and it is expected two will be employed at 18.5 hours each week by the North Area Council, a sub-body of Barnsley Council which works to improve the environment for residents in the two Darton wards as well as St Helen’s and Old Town.

Each officer will have responsibility for two wards and will be expected to work with youngsters to try to establish their needs and desires before finding constructive outlets for their time.

North Area manager Rosie Adams told councillors who make up the area council: “You don’t get participation in the way we would have had in the past, it is about supporting youth councils.

“It means that on the ground, the offer is very, very limited.”

Limited resources means that borough-wide youth work by Barnsley Council is now “sparse” and she added: “We wanted more in our area linking in with schools and ward alliances.

“It means the wards can be split with each responsible for two wards, for some more concentrated work on the ground.

“It is about participation and positive activities, they will have a small activities budget.

“We are looking at having officers hopefully liaising with people in schools, finding out what they want.

“In an ideal world we would go back to what we had five or ten years ago but that won’t happen.”

Coun Phillip Lofts, who represents Old Town, said: “It is very frustrating not to have sufficient services available. There virtually isn’t any service on the ground.

“We have huge problems in our ward. Not necessarily people from our ward, but gathering in our ward and being mischievous, sometimes more than that.

“It would be interesting to tap into them and try to get them to be constructive rather than destructive.”

Coun Roy Miller said: “Nobody wants to be hounding kids. We want to know how to work with kids.”