For young people growing up in Southampton, particularly in this economic climate there is not a lot to look forward to. In Southampton 7.4% of 16-18 year olds are NEET and there are 19 young people chasing every job. In 2013 this is set to get worse with 300 redundancies with the city council, 700 jobs scrapped with the closure of the Ford factory and many more closure threats.
Josh Asker, Southampton Youth Fight for Jobs
These statistics all stack up on top of young people already disadvantaged (In the Bargate ward there is a 42.9% child poverty rate) and with the economy looking like it could be on the brink of a triple dip recession things aren't going to be getting better soon. This is a common story right across the country and Europe where we see Young and working class people pay for the crisis that they did not cause. Only a fool would argue that the bill of £800 billion for bailing out the banks should be put onto the shoulders of young people, but that is exactly what is happening.
For years youth centres have been a place for young people to meet and engage in their society and in Southampton you will hear thousands of testimonials of exactly what the youth service has done for people and their families. At a time when we are seeing more and more disengagement and alienation of young people with no future then the youth service is vital. Only the other day when talking to a police officer about these particular cut backs did I receive his full support as he clearly identified the necessity of the service in preventing crime.
A stark lesson can be learned from the riots of 2011 when the true state of alienation of young people from their communities was laid bare. We did not see riots in Southampton but with them sparking in similar cities and without changing the situation in which they occurred, why would they not happen in the future?
All of this begs the question as to why Southampton city council have plans to “Cease council delivery of youth support services”? Central government have cut 8% of funding given to local authorities and as a result the city council is passing this on the residents with £18 million of cuts in public services and a 2% rise in council tax. All of this is proposed for in budget to be set by the city council on 13th February. In the previous blog we have summarised exactly where the axe will land, but one thing is for sure, that they will have a devastating effect on the city and on the lives of young people.What we want!
The decision by the city council to pass these cuts on to the residents is a political choice and not a necessity. Rather than a group of suits simply carrying out the Tories dirty work we want to see councillors prepared to stand their ground in defence of their city and of the people who elected them. We say that the council should follow the lead of Keith Morrell and Don Thomas in making this stand, to use the councils borrowing powers to protect the city from the Tories axe and co-ordinate a national campaign of resistance in defiance of Eric Pickles and his cronies.
What can we do?
The city council are not going to budge without serious pressure. That is why we are helping to organise a protest outside of the final full council meeting before the budget is set. We have arranged to make a deputation to the councillors as a way of a true consultation rather than the sham consultation held behind closed doors in December. The only way this will be stopped and the only way we will win is if the council are under sufficient pressure and the only way we can do that is visibly show our opposition with feet pounding the ground outside of the civic centre.
SAVE SOUTHAPTON YOUTH SERVICES
Southampton Civic Centre
Wednesday 16th January, 17:30
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/138795292943827/
Online petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/southampton-sos