UNISON teams with young people to fight cuts to youth services

Union is seeking to protect youth services ‘for the long term’

On 6 April dozens of Camden council workers and young people from the London borough will be demonstrating outside Camden Town Hall against potentially devastating cuts to youth services.

Their protest takes place as the council makes its final decision on a cuts package which, if approved, would follow £2.3m of cuts already made in 2012.

UNISON says the combined effect could leave youth services over 60% worse off compared to the funding they received in 2011.

The council originally proposed a widespread package of cuts earlier this year, totalling £1.6 million, which included:

  • a 64% cut in universal youth service provision;
  • the closure of two youth centres;
  • the closure of a project funding activities for low-income young people;
  • closure of the Under 25s Advice Centre;
  • a 70% budget cut to Camden Connexions services, which provide careers and jobs support for young people;
  • further cuts to the youth offending service; and
  • the loss of 25-30 full-time equivalent youth service jobs.

The Camden UNISON branch responded to these proposals by launching the Save Camden Youth Services campaign, aimed at fighting the cuts alongside workers and the wider community.

On 29 January the union led a demonstration outside a full council meeting, calling for a rethink. Inside the chamber, four local young people spoke against the cuts.

“They argued passionately and effectively against the cuts in their statement, which had a substantial impact on councillors at the meeting,” said assistant branch secretary and children, schools and families co-convenor John Shepherd.

Thanks to the campaign, the council made some concessions on the initial proposals, putting the closure of some projects on hold for two years while it looks for alternatives to cuts.

“But our fight to save Camden’s youth services for the long term isn’t over,” Mr Shepherd added. “As the council makes its final decision on the updated proposals, we will be demonstrating to show councillors that the community wants to keep all of our youth services open for young people to benefit from in the future.”