Communities link up to save youth services

COMMUNITIES across North Somerset will come together in 11 new networks to provide youth services in April.

North Somerset Council is in the process of overhauling its entire youth services system as it makes unprecedented savings, and hopes the new structure will provide for youngsters across the district.

The authority has set aside more than �300,000 for community groups, parish councils and other organisations to get the new system up and running.

Among the networks preparing to launch in April are Weston Central, Weston South and Weston East, which would encompass Worle, St Georges, Wick St Lawrence and Kewstoke.

There will also be a mid-rural group including Congresbury, Yatton and the surrounding area, and a south rural group containing Banwell, Locking, Bleadon, Hutton, Winscombe and Sandford.

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The authority has put aside an enabling grant of �75,000 which will be given to existing youth management committees to ensure a smooth transition to the new system, and a further �250,000 will then be available to support them once they have launched.

The council’s executive member for youth services, Jeremy Blatchford, said: “Before these local commissioning networks receive any funding they will have to demonstrate how they will implement their local programme and demonstrate that it is viable; and create a strategy that considers innovative ways to plan, develop and commission services on a local basis.

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“What is very important is that this isn’t about replacing the youth service, it’s about responding to the needs of many of the 19,200 young people who find the current service doesn’t work for them and setting up something new which responds to local needs and involves children and young people.”

A positive activity provider forum has been set up to pool resources for the networks to use, and North Somerset Youth Parliament will send out a survey to every secondary school to find out what activities youngsters want.

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