Sackful of letters from Birmingham youngsters handed to council to protest against Youth Services cuts

Huge protests against feared cuts to Birmingham City Council Youth Services
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Protesters including school children and youth workers joined forces to loudly protest outside Birmingham Council House over expected cuts to youth services.

To the beat of drums and the whistle of kazoos, around 80 protesters marched from the Library of Birmingham in Centenary Square to the council’s HQ in Victoria Square on Tuesday morning (February 13).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

With them, they had a sackful of handwritten letters from young people highlighting their concerns over the expected cuts, which was later accepted on behalf of the Cabinet by Cllr Liz Clements.

Birmingham City Council is preparing to set out how it will plug a £300m funding gap in its delayed budget, due to be signed off next month. Full details of how the money will be saved are yet to be released but early indications have been that services for children and young people are likely to be slashed.

Around 1,000 people have signed a petition opposing possible cuts to youth services. At the protest, many young people talked about how youth centres had been a lifeline for them, by providing a space where they could make friends and find support.

Protesters hand sackful of letters to Birmingham City Council to protest against youth services cutsProtesters hand sackful of letters to Birmingham City Council to protest against youth services cuts
Protesters hand sackful of letters to Birmingham City Council to protest against youth services cuts

“I’ve been using a youth centre for two years.” I’ve always had a trusted adult to speak to [there],” said 18-year-old Hamaam Shire. Labour councillor Kerry Jenkins said: “Youth services are absolutely vital to young people in our city.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Every young person should have access to youth services and to lose them in this city at the time would be an absolute travesty and disaster. Whatever happens at the budget meeting on March 5 we have to carry on fighting. We have to make sure young people’s voices are honestly and genuinely heard as part of any review in youth services.”

Lee Wiggetts-Clinton, Unite regional officer, said the protest was about “saving the children and saving the future” and spoke about the impact youth centres have in their communities. “These places are safe hubs for these people,” he said. “They go to these places because it is safe for them to do so. These places also provide food, not only for the children that attend these centres, but also food for the families.”

Green Party Group Leader Julien Pritchard said the work that Maypole Youth Centre does in his area, close to Druids Heath, shows “how crucial youth services are” to young people across the city. “Youth services aren’t a luxury,” he added.

A statement from Birmingham City Council said it realised this was an “unsettling time” for residents. “As we review the saving proposals for the children, young people and families directorate, it will be inevitable that services will need to be changed as a result, and this process allows us to continue making improvements to provide efficient services.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They also added: “An invitation was sent by Councillor Cotton and Councillor McCarthy to the young people offering the chance for a meeting to discuss their concerns. Whilst the young people did not take up this offer today, it remains open to them. The Council is grateful to the young people for making their views heard today.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.