Businesses asked for youth services cash

Lord Jeffrey Archer. Copyright Swannell.

Lord Jeffrey Archer. Copyright Swannell. - Credit: Swannell

NEARLY 700 Weston businesses are being asked to donate money to increase the number of activities for children and teenagers.

Companies are being asked to make a suggested £10 monthly donation to help fund youth services which would help keep children off the streets and prevent some teenagers turning to crime, according to town councillor Tony Probert.

Letters are being sent to companies in a venture jointly run by Weston Town Council and the YMCA.

Cllr Probert (pictured left) has spearheaded the campaign over the past six months and believes unless something is done the next generation will lose out.

He said: “We are in this process because the town council took over youth services from North Somerset Council when it withdrew its budgets as part of the Coalition Government’s austerity measures.

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“In effect it meant our young people had nowhere to go except out into the street.

“If we do not provide such services, Weston will contribute to the £1.2billion that youth crimes have cost the country since 2010.”

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The YMCA moved into Barcode in South Parade in April while its main base opposite Grove Park is being revamped. A five-year deal with the town council will see them work together to provide youth services but both agree there is not enough money available to ensure all youngsters can be involved.

Rob Penney, programme development officer for the YMCA, said any money from the 697 businesses being approached would make a big difference.

He said: “An evening of youth work and activities costs in the region of £120 to deliver but the costs of not providing these opportunities are far greater for bodies such as the health service, criminal justice system and education.

“By promoting healthy lifestyles, inter-generational work, citizenship and a sense of belonging in a fun and safe environment, we ensure our young people get the best start in life we can offer.

“A former YMCA resident now volunteers regularly at Barcode and has recently travelled to Bulgaria with Clevedon YMCA to help renovate an orphanage. This was a fantastic learning opportunity for her that will have long-lasting positive effects as she seeks employment.”

Cllr Probert has already written to a number of billionaires and millionaires in the hope of getting extra funding.

His efforts have seen former Weston resident Lord Jeffrey Archer pledge £1,000 towards the project.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling suggested the YMCA makes an application to The Volant Charitable Trust she founded.

Businesses are being sent a freepost envelope within which they can return a copy of the bank standing order they have set up.

A certificate of appreciation will be presented by Mayor Keith Morris to those who sign up which businesses can hang up in public to show they are supporting the scheme.

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