Youth service changes 'may mean more crime and teen pregnancies'
A UNION says a Derby City Council plan to stop directly funding youth clubs – which has left 40 jobs at risk – could lead to more young people getting pregnant and committing crimes.
But the councillor in charge of the authority's youth service says some clubs and their staff may now get a reprieve.
This comes after council forums, which are given cash to help their neighbourhoods, decided it would be best to spend their money to keep the clubs as they are.
The Labour-led council previously said the 34 clubs could be run by community organisations, sports clubs and arts groups. It said this would save it £130,000.
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But the union Unison fears the authority does not have enough time to ensure a smooth handover by June, when the 40 part-time youth workers will have left the council.
Nicole Berrisford, Unison's Derby branch secretary, said that, while some voluntary youth organisations would have the expertise to take over roles such as giving sexual health advice, others may not.
She said: "Council services are monitored and regulated so we know the members have the right skills to deal with issues.
"There are good voluntary organisations out there that do good community work but there is a risk some who get involved will not have the right level of expertise and put young people at risk."
She said that not having highly skilled youth workers could create more risk of "teenage pregnancies and young people getting more involved in street crime".
But Joe Russo, the chief executive of Enthusiasm, a Derby community group which helps troubled 11-to-18-year-olds, has said previously that the voluntary sector was ready for the challenge.
He said: "Sometimes people will say we don't have the training and expertise but that isn't true."
And Councillor Martin Rawson, cabinet member for children and young people, has said that the changes may not affect as many clubs and staff as first feared.
He said: "A number of the council's neighbourhood boards, including Derwent's, have decided they would take over funding their local youth club.
"In that case, the same people would be employed from a different pot of money Where that may not be the case, officers are working with the voluntary sector. There will be high-quality staff to take over."
The council had already said that, whatever happened, some youth workers would be retained to work with "vulnerable groups and communities".
The changes to the youth service are due to be phased in from next month.