Teenagers win praise as councillors put Brighton and Hove youth services under the political microscope
Teenagers from across Brighton and Hove have shared how youth work has helped them to grow in confidence.
They said that they had learnt new skills, helped others, found paid work and become better at looking after their own health.
They were praised by local politicians with one, Councillor Dawn Barnett, telling a group of young people that she was proud of them.
A young council tenant called Aaron, from the Knoll Estate in Hove, said that his work as a volunteer with eight to 12-year-olds at the Hangleton and Knoll Project had helped him to develop.
He said: “This has helped me get my first job. I’ve built up my confidence and had interview practice with youth workers.
“It has helped push me into a career that benefits me and gives me more independence.”
Councillor Barnett, who represents Hangleton and Knoll ward on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “I met Aaron when he was younger and shy.
“Now he cooks at the older people’s lunch club and is a wonderful young man. This whole group are lovely.
“The Knoll Estate is one of the most deprived areas – not just in Brighton and Hove but in the country. And these young people are really thriving and doing great things.”
They were one of two groups who spoke to the members of two council committees this week as councillors were given a report on youth services and youth work budgets.
The council spends £886,000 a year on youth services – down from £1.6 million just four years ago.
Almost half of that money – £400,000 a year – is set aside for the Youth Grants Programme which runs until the end of March next year.
The council’s Housing and New Homes Committee was told that currently the Housing Revenue Account, funded from tenants’ rents, spends £250,000 a year on youth projects targeting young people from local estates.
The money helps about 800 young people who live in council houses or flats.
The committee agreed to budget £125,000 to cover an extra six months until October 2020 because the programme is due to go out to tender again.
Two of the youngsters from the Hangleton and Knoll Project told the committee, which met at Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Wednesday 19 June), that their volunteering had helped them to become more employable.
The programme was designed to reduce anti-social behaviour, improve social inclusion and help young people to be ready for employment.
About 2,200 young people across Brighton and Hove have gone along to various projects run by organisations that are funded by the council, making on average eight visits each.
Teenagers from one of those organisations, the 67 Centre in Moulsecoomb, shared their experiences with the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee meeting on Monday (17 June).
One of the youngsters, Charlotte, said: “We talk about what’s going on in the world and have conversations about politics.
“I’ve been given a better understanding of what’s going on, as well as talking about more personal things like health.
“It’s given us opportunities to learn about ourselves and the people around us.”
One of her colleagues, Georgina, said that they might have different opinions but they had learnt to make their points constructively and listened to each other’s views.
Conservative councillor Lee Wares joked that they might be able to teach something to members of the council.
The Patcham ward councillor commended the young people for coming along before he asked about commissioning.
Councillor Wares said that his ward, which includes council estates in Hollingbury, had significant areas of deprivation.
He wanted to know how decisions were made as to where services were offered.
He was told that in the northern part of Brighton, there had been a focus on Moulsecoomb but Hollingbury was also expected to be given some support.
Adam Muirhead, from the Trust for Developing Communities, said: “It is my sincere desire that we would have all the resource we need to provide youth services for all the young people in the city.
“We are really keen to be responsive and accountable to areas of need and understand what the local concerns are.
“I am concerned about issues coming up in other areas. I want to be responsive to young people.”