Newham Council is to increase its youth services spending by £4.5m to employ 40 extra youth workers and double youth club provision.Ensuring young people are safe in the borough, which has a high rate of violent crime, including murder, is a key factor in the move, the council said.It is working closely with police, health, schools and young people through the Newham Youth Safety Board partnership to improve its youth provision, it added.The new youth service involves deploying detached youth workers to support young people in the community as well as doubling the number of “youth zones” from four to eight. These zones provide drop-in youth club activities across the borough.
The investment in youth provision in Newham comes amid widespread youth services funding cuts across England.Over the last decade, the charity YMCA estimates that youth services have been cut by 69 per cent. The average youth services spend per council across England has fallen from £7.79m in 2010 to planned expenditure of £2.45m in the next financial year.“I am proud to introduce the 40 new youth workers who have been recruited, following an interview process where young people themselves were given a say in hiring staff,” said Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz.“At a time when austerity is forcing many local authorities to cut youth funding, Newham is bucking the trend. This new money was not easy to come by, but we have no choice, these young people are our future and must be our priority.
She added: “Our proposal to spend £4.5m a year to support children and young people in Newham up until 2023 will mean we can deliver on my pledge to double the number of youth zones in the borough from four to eight, and provide extra support for young people’s health and mental wellbeing, and programmes to keep our teenagers safe.”According to latest Metropolitan Police statistics, Newham had the joint highest number of murders over the last year. In the 12 months to December 2019 the borough was the scene of nine homicides, the same number as neighbouring Tower Hamlets.
Meanwhile, London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced £55.5m worth of investment in the capital during 2020/21 to prevent violent crime, with a strong emphasis on boosting youth provision.The mayor’s Young Londoners Fund is to receive an extra £25m to divert disadvantaged young people away from crime.The money will also be used for peer-mentoring programmes for young people in pupil referral units, who are at risk of criminal behaviour.Tackling county lines drug distribution networks, where criminals target vulnerable young people to traffick drugs across the country, is another focus of the funding.
“The causes of violent crime are complex and deep-rooted, but have been made far worse by huge government cuts to the police, schools, youth services and local councils,” said Khan.He added that the newly announced investment brings total spending for tackling violent crime to £100m this year, which includes recruiting extra police officers.
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