Youth awards on eve of cutbacks

A final ceremony will be held in celebration of young people on the eve of the closure of a host of services.

Cuts to Norfolk County Council’s �4.8m youth budget has meant a number of workers facing redundancy which will leave towns such as Thetford with less support for young people.

Services set to go in the town include a youth centre called the Chillout club, support work at Thetford Academy, sexual health advice, and individual counselling and support. The Helping Hands Asperger’s support group and the Young Carers group have also been forced to find new homes.

District youth worker for Norfolk County Council Mike Wilkinson, based in Thetford, said the lack of evening activities for young people would lead to them being branded as ‘anti-social’.

“One of the basic reasons that young people are perceived as displaying anti-social behaviour is that their evening activities draw more attention than our daytime activities,” he said.

“Just because we may hear people talking outside our window or on the corner of our street, or running past our home or even kicking a ball around on the street is not cause to suggest they should classed as criminals.

“Some of the young people have come to me and said ‘what are we going to do now?’ “It’s about them having somewhere to meet with youth workers where they feel safe.”

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Mr Wilkinson’s criticisms come as Norfolk County Council announced it has allocated �900,000 to support vulnerable young people. Some youth workers such as Mr Wilkinson will still face redundancy.

A final Youth Award ceremony for people involved in youth service activities will be held on Friday at the Carnegie Room, Thetford, from 6.45pm.