Youth Service Update
The Head of Youth Services Devon County Council and local Members updated the Board on progress at the individual youth centres:-
100 Club Countess Wear
The separate staff mutual would operate out of the Club later in the year and other youth services would also be based there.
A very successful transfer had been achieved with volunteers and all agencies contributing equally to this achievement and with regular contact with Devon Youth Service. Reaching out to local young people remained the biggest challenge and it was hoped that they could be helped through a cross City offer for outreach.
Protracted lease arrangements were near finalisation, funds made available for capital works and further discussions on nature of youth work delivery to be undertaken. The local Member had funded a travel subsidy for some 45 Wonford young people to participate in 100 Club events.
Although the YMCA Board would, at a forthcoming meeting, further consider any possible involvement in the Buddle Lane Hall, it was likely that interest would be withdrawn and that the area west of the City of some 33,000 inhabitants, which was once served by three youth centres, would no longer have any. Local Members stressed the long term potential risks for communities in not providing support for young people. Further, vulnerable young people were losing professional and supportive youth workers. It was hoped that the new Community Organiser identified for the Exwick area would help to address and find ways to meet some of the need.
With regard to the overall delivery of youth services, the Board had previously called for the development of a youth strategy for Exeter in order to ensure as strong and co-ordinated provision as possible for young people across the City, but this had not been progressed. Consideration was now being given to progressing this proposal which would help redress the loss of youth clubs in Exeter and Kevin Henman referred to initiatives at Leeds and Bristol City Councils which would help inform the commissioning of a similar approach for Exeter.
An independent lead was suggested to progress a strategy and advice could be sought from the Regional Youth Work Unit at Taunton who had carried out a similar exercise with partners across Bristol. It was proposed that a working group of Members and officers meet to scope the requirements for the strategy with a sum of £5,000 allocated to engage a consultant and fund the development of the strategy, representing a 50/50 split between the City and County Councils. The County Council had offered to commission the work
Councillor Barry Parsons, the Cabinet Member for Performance and Engagement, confirmed that he had volunteered to Chair a group initially if necessary and emphasised his commitment to redressing the balance of youth provision in the City. He felt that the involvement of young people in the consultation process was vital in the development of a strategy as had been the case with the other authorities and that this should be as wide ranging a group as possible. He also acknowledged Members’ suggestion of introducing new and different models of provision.
(1) the Board welcome the commitment of the Cabinet Member for Performance and Engagement to engage with Exeter in the development of a youth strategy for the City;
(2) Kevin Henman and selected Members and officers meet to establish the way forward for a report to be submitted to the next Board meeting on 28 April to agree the scope of a Youth Strategy for Exeter and the commissioning of a consultant for work on the Strategy to commence as soon as possible with a view to having the work completed by the Autumn; and
(3) up to £5,000 be committed from Exeter Board which will augment Devon Youth Service funds to commission the work to produce the Strategy.