Inner city youngsters are being left out, claims pioneering project

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A project to keep ‘at risk’ youths off the streets claims it is a ‘disaster’ for council bosses to axe its £18,000 annual funding.

The Chapeltown Youth Development Centre, (CYDC) which offers football training, sports and work to combat gang culture, says its service is ‘vital’ to young people, who are often NEET (Not in employment education or training).

The council says it will instead offer youth services itself to 600 plus children and teens, but CYDC say they don’t have the skills or expertise and youngsters from inner city Leeds won’t benefit.

Lutel James, strategic leader Of Chapeltown Youth Development Centre, has published his feelings on the matter in an email sent to council chiefs.

Mr James said: “More than 600 young people a week make use of the targeted youth work, football development, rugby, music, dance, youth work, gang prevention, mentoring and coaching and family support.

“All this costs the council only £18,000 a year costing on average 3 pence a child annually from its now £2.5 million pound budget, which is shared between 10 wards city wide.

“What they seem to forget that the Chapeltown area is totally different to Beeston, and again different to Halton Moor, and Alwoodley, yet they treat every area with the same assessment.”

He said a recent survey had found that each Tuesday and Thursday around 70 youngsters attended sessions at Chapeltown’s Mandela Centre, yet a council run session held nearby had less than 10 youngsters attending.

“The young people here do not want to attend council organised sessions. With our volunteers, the young people aged from six years up to 19, trust us and respect us and want to work with us. We give them hope and help keep them out of trouble.”

“These cuts mean that inner city kids are yet again being left out. The implications of this will become apparent in years to come. Mark my words.”

Leeds City Council is being forced to make £130 million of budget cuts over three years.

A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said: “We are in the middle of a process of talking to all providers who’s contracts for targeted youth work will end naturally in March 2015. These contracts were originally awarded as grants a number of years ago with no recent competitive tendering process.

“We are committed to helping the most vulnerable children and young people in our city and by working together, with third sector organisations we can all strive together to make Leeds a child friendly city.”

Pictured above is Councillor Jane Dowson at the Chapeltown Youth Development Centre at the Prince Philip Community Centre, Leeds.

From left, William Bowler, football co-ordinator secretary, Lutel James, Strategic Leader, Chapeltown Youth Development Centre and Coun Jane Dowson.

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