Lack of youth services worries Whitley NAG

South Reading Community Centre

The lack of youth services in south Reading was raised as a concern at the Whitley neighbourhood action group (NAG) on Thursday 26 January.

Tina Heaford, south Reading’s area team leader for youth work, said that all the council’s open access youth clubs are due to close on 31 March this year. Clubs run by the voluntary sector but which are also funded by the council will also be closed,  although the session at Whitley Youth Club on Wednesday nights will be continued. The decision to close these clubs was made in July last year as part of the council’s attempt to manage its budget.

Reading Football Club’s ‘Kicks’ project will no longer get £80,000 a year to run its 10 open access youth clubs in Reading, so their youth clubs at Whitley Wood and Hexham Road will also be closed.

“Young people will no longer have universal access to venues for somewhere to go to be safe, which is what the youth service used to provide,” added Mrs Heaford.

The only remaining free clubs will be for young carers, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and questioning (LGBTQ) and learning difficulties and disability (LDD) groups. The council plan to concentrate their funding on young people who need most support, rather than offering the previous ‘universal’ open access service.

Attendees were encouraged to contact RBC officers Gina Carpenter or Andy Fitton to discuss how the clubs’ equipment should be dispersed or how local voluntary groups could fill the space left by the council’s withdrawal.

Speeding, parking and dog mess in the area was also discussed at the NAG, as well as proposals for a ‘virtual’ NAG to allow residents to get involved online rather than at meetings.

The next Whitley NAG meeting is scheduled for on 27 April at 7pm at South Reading Community Centre, 252 Northumberland Road, RG2 7QA.


Links

  1. The Whitley neighbourhood action group seeks a new name
  2. The Kicks Project
  3. Reading Borough Council adult social care and children services committee, 4 July 2016 and webcast (see item 12).
  4. Reading youth organisations
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