‘Vital’ Sunderland youth service under threat after funding cuts

John Dent from the Boyzie Project at Grindon Lane Youth Club which is under threat due to funding cuts.

John Dent from the Boyzie Project at Grindon Lane Youth Club which is under threat due to funding cuts.

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A YOUTH group that helped slash antisocial behaviour is fighting for survival after a funding cut.

Just weeks ago, Grindon Youth Project was praised by Northumbria Police for preventing youngsters from falling into trouble.

The club was hailed for helping rates of antisocial behaviour in the Grindon area fall by 12 per cent.

But now the club, which meets twice a week, faces an uncertain future after its funding was cut, jeopardising the future of its young members.

John Dent, youth club worker at the project, said: “This is about taking away something which is vital to our young people.

“They feel quite robbed by what’s happening.

“It could take away the one place they could go to socialise.”

Every Monday and Wednesday night, up to 40 young people meet at the project in Grindon Lane, but the latest cuts mean the Wednesday session is facing the axe.

John, who has worked for the project for more than three years, said: “At the minute, myself and another youth worker are volunteering to try and keep things going, but we can’t do that forever.

“It has taken a lot of hard work to get their trust, empowering them so they have a voice but that voice is now being ignored. It’s really quite frustrating because a lot of effort has gone into this group and we really wanted to provide the young people with somewhere they don’t feel devalued.”

Although the group caters for all types of young people, it also helps those who are deemed at risk of falling into antisocial behaviour.

Councillor Debra Waller, who represents Grindon, said: “Unfortunately, there are cuts happening everywhere at the minute.

“The project serves an excellent purpose in the ward and we know John is volunteering on Wednesdays.

“The young people have very much taken ownership of the group.

“It is providing young people with opportunities they might not otherwise have had.”

Northumbria Police recently handed over a new television to the club, with Inspector Dave Pickett praising it for “offering activities to young people in the area and keeping them from hanging around the streets”.

Councillor Pat Smith, portfolio holder for children’s services, said: “We value the youth work delivered from Grindon Young People’s Centre, including this particular project, as we do the contribution of all voluntary and community groups across the city.

“We have recently completed a recommissioning exercise for youth provision which will actually increase the age range of young people able to access it to 11-19 across the community.

“Consultation has revealed some areas want a more flexible approach to holding their sessions, with the option of using different nights or venues.

“We are currently working with the successful providers to agree how this can best be achieved which might lead to changes in previous arrangements.”

“The Wednesday night youth session delivered from Grindon Young People’s Centre may be moved to another night and might be held elsewhere in the community.

“The Monday night session at Grindon Young People’s Centre and Friday night sessions at the Sandhill Centre Youth Wing are planned to continue.

“Funding provided by Sunderland City Council provides three sessions of commissioned youth activities per ward per week.”

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