Plaistow charity boss: Youth service cuts creating a ‘ticking timebomb’

PUBLISHED: 13:07 16 April 2018 | UPDATED: 14:04 16 April 2018

Marcia Samuels. Picture: MARTIN SPICER

Marcia Samuels. Picture: MARTIN SPICER

© 2015 Martin Spicer Photography

A charity boss has warned cuts to youth service budgets have created a “ticking time bomb”.

Marcia Samuels of New Choices for Youth in Claughton Road, Plaistow, said: “ We are in a society scared of young people who are demonised as being in gangs.”

She said taking away youth services on top of pressure at school and from ads promising youngsters “an amazing lifestyle” even though they can’t afford it has created a “ticking time bomb”.

“If there is no hope, no future, then there is nothing to lose and more risks are taken and more lives placed at risk or lost,” she said.

On youth club closures, Andrea Quaintmere, fundraising manager at Forest Gate based charity Aston Mansfield, said: “Safe havens for young people have completely disappeared.”

Figures gained through a freedom of information request by Green Party London Assembly Member Sian Berry revealed Newham’s youth service budget was cut by 81pc from £2,107,310 in 2011-12 to £400,000 this year. However, the council rejected the figures saying its budget has been £890,000 since 2014 with no plans to cut it in 2018-19, a 40pc cut since 2011. The amount includes money Newham spends on its own service and awards to charities and other organisations working with young people.

Berry’s report shows Barking and Dagenham’s budget saw a 68pc drop, but a rise of 9pc in Redbridge. Westminster made the biggest cut of 89pc, according to the report.

The news comes at a time of growing concern about knife and gun violence with speculation a recent spate of killings is linked to council youth budget cuts.

“There are ordinary kids who get forgotten about. They want to walk down the street without being asked about their post code,” Ms Quaintmere said in reference to so called post code wars between gangs.

Ms Samuels said organisations need long term funding for spaces where young people can go.

“They need peers and non-judgemental workers to support them. A lot of young people do not have family support and can be drawn into negative relationships where they find “family” at a very high price, which in some cases costs their lives,” she said.

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