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West Wiltshire's young people fight back

October 15, 2014 10:21 PM

Following the vicious cuts to the county's youth services imposed by Wiltshire Conservatives, the new cheaper system is taking shape with meetings between young people and community leaders taking place.

The meetings are setting up the Local Youth Networks (LYNs), which will co-ordinate youth activities and encourage young people to be involved.

Meanwhile the team of Community Youth Officers (CYOs) who started this month are planning networking events and helping to forge relations between organisations and local communities to ensure the activities in each youth area match what people want to do.

In Warminster there will be a conference on 3 December where groups and organisations are being invited to showcase what they currently provide for young people in the town. It's at Kingdown School from 6pm to 8pm. This is one event among a number to determine youth provision in the area. The LYN is being set up and several consultation events with Kingdown and Warminster schools are in progress to help shape provision.

In Trowbridge drop-in youth consultation events for 13 to 19 year olds are planned for Saturday 8 November from 12 noon to 2pm at Trowbridge Town Hall, and 13 November from 4pm to 6pm at County Hall. The County Hall event will also host an inflatable bungee and there will be free food at both events. There will also be consultation with local schools to help determine what young people want to do and an online consultation about young people's priorities.

In Bradford the CYO Emma Coombs has been meeting with interested parties to help build the LYN. The town council is in negotiation with Wiltshire Council to take on a lease for use of the vacant Youth Development Centre building in Frome Road in the town. There will be an Open Day at the centre this Saturday (18 October) from 2pm-4pm, to encourage greater awareness and future use of the facilities by the wider community.

In Melksham there was a network evening in September bringing together people who provide services for children and young people. The LYN was also launched at that point and people interested in being involved were invited to join. The Melksham Multi Agency Forum is also being relaunched to ensure local services work together to provide quality support for children and young people.

Westbury area board and CYO Phoebe Brazier-Phibbens are setting up the LYN and finalising an action plan. Phoebe has been meeting with a range of local organisations and there are plans for a networking event in November.

The changes to youth services means some buildings are changing their use or being handed over to local groups to manage.

Cabinet Member for Children's Services Laura Mayes said: "We had the lengthy consultation with communities and young people on how youth services should be provided and now we are seeing the new approach begin to take shape. Across Wiltshire communities are coming together and working with their young people to ensure young people can have activities they want in their area. There are more than 50 groups and organisations with skilled, trained people as well as volunteers starting to work with young people on possible activities in their area and I'm looking forward to seeing how this community and youth-led change takes shape."