Mothers and teenagers in Thornbury express fears over youth funding cuts
WORRIED mothers and teenagers in Thornbury have said they will be left in the lurch with no support and nowhere to go if their local Sure Start Centre and youth facilities close their doors.
They expressed their concern at South Gloucestershire Council’s public consultation in Turnberrie’s last week where they were told that, due to major cuts to youth services, the local authority would stop funding nine of its 15 Sure Start Centres, including the ones in Thornbury and Severn Beach, and invite bids from organisations to run them instead.
As part of the plans, all youth centres could also be privatised.
But if no business or group comes forward to take charge of the facilities, they will have to close.
Kerry Scouse, 28, from Thornbury, started attending the Monday baby group at Thornbury’s Sure Start Centre when her son Caleb was only a few weeks old. He is now nine months.
She said: "I can’t go to one of the other six Sure Start Centres because I don’t have a car. You get a lot of emotional support at the centre.
"I think a lot of mums out there will really struggle. They will have nowhere to go and nobody they can talk to."
Teresa Lamb, also from Thornbury, has an eight-month-old daughter, Hannah, and is part of the same baby group. She told the Gazette meeting first-time mothers like herself at the centre had been extremely useful.
"It has provided me and all of us with a network of mums in Thornbury we can talk to," she said.
"When you have a new born baby I don’t think you want to jump in your car and go far. It’s added stress."
Rob Starling, 16, of Thornbury, was one of several teenagers at the consultation. He has been using the town's Youth Centre on a weekly basis since he was in year eight.
The Castle School sixth former said: "They take us out, we go karting and they run an art club. If it closes we would be out in the street and we would have nothing to do."
However, despite families’ fears and strong opposition from the community, the local authority said the proposed changes would allow thousands more youths to have access to council funds through a new "per-head" funding system.
A council spokeman said: "At present these services do not always reach the people who need them most.
"Last year only nine per cent of lone parents with children aged zero to four used South Gloucestershire’s children's centres and only around 20 per cent of young people regularly visited the district’s youth centres." The consultation ends on May 25.
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