Youth service closures could cause more trouble on the streets

Saturday, 2 March 2024 18:36

By Martyn Smith, Local Democracy Reporter @

Shaz Saleem and lead youth worker Cassie Grey at the Source

Former councillor Shaz Saleem, believes changes to youth services could cause more anti-social behaviour on the streets of Dudley

Mr. Saleem, who runs a youth group at The Source Centre in Wordsley, hit out at a restructure by Dudley Council. The changes mean Dudley Youth Services has closed and been brought under the control of family hubs throughout the borough.

He said: “It’s got to have an effect, youth services will be neglected as a priority by having one team running multiple services.

“There is a risk of more youth on the streets and more anti-social behaviour – it’s very disappointing.”

Dudley Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, Cllr Ruth Buttery, said: “Here in Dudley, we are proud of our investment in Children’s Services and in our early help and prevention work.

“Our five fantastic family hubs opened last year, and the youth team is now part of the family hubs.”

Mr Saleem says he is already feeling the effects of the changes, which took effect in December, after waiting for four weeks for repairs when the heating system at the Barnett Lane centre stopped working. The Source is a partnership between youth workers and other organisations including neighbourhood police, the fire service and the Royal British Legion which aims to break down barriers with young people aged from 11 upwards. 

He says due to problems with the heating he had to cancel one session, cut short two others and volunteers were reluctant to attend in cold weather. Mr Saleem said: “You can sugarcoat it whichever way you like but the reality is they are ending it.

“The heating at The Source is evidence of how youth services are lower in their priorities.”

Cllr Buttery said: “The heating system at The Source is looked after by the council’s maintenance team.”

Despite the council’s current financial difficulties, Cllr Buttery says the changes have not been made to cut spending. She said: “The redesign of the youth service saw the removal of one youth work management role.

“There were no direct savings made as the budget has been used to support areas within Children’s Services that required additional staffing.”

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