‘Hartlepool must work together for its vulnerable teenagers’

Councillors and school bosses urged the importance of working together to provide the best services for teenagers in Hartlepool following government cuts.

Thursday, 6th June 2019, 4:36 pm
Councillor Leisa Smith.
Councillor Leisa Smith.

Hartlepool Borough Council children’s services committee approved plans by council officers to remodel its youth service offer for those aged 13-19, targeting increased support to vulnerable children.

The restructure aims to maximise available resources after the council youth service net budget dropped from £1,005,000 in 2014/15 to £347,000 in 2019/20, a reduction of 65%.

Councillors highlighted the importance of everyone in the town working together to provide the most for children, adding more activities will help prevent anti-social behaviour.

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Praise was also offered to staff for continuing to provide a full service in the face of government cuts.

It will still continue to offer the same existing services, including the Duke of Edinburgh Award and Skate Park from Rossmere Youth Centre, along with various open access youth work and special interests groups at youth centres across the town.

“Nothing for kids to do”

Coun Brenda Harrison said: “There’s so many people who have been saying there’s nothing for kids to do, there is a lot going on.

“But the fact there has been a 65% reduction in funding over the past number of years, it’s an incredible amount of money to go.

“It’s an incredible achievement to keep youth services going even the way they are in the face of that.

“It really is to do with coordinating, throughout the town, throughout the schools, so that we can offer something on an even playing field to all of our children.”

Coun Marjorie James added it was important to work with other groups, highlighting organisations such as Cadets and Scouts, as well as working with schools.

She said: “Our schools may have resources that they could use better if they work more closely, it would help young people and benefit both organisations.

“There are other organisations as well who give that structured approach that could potentially minimise anti-social behaviour. Maybe it’s time we have some kind of gathering together so we can speak to all organisations.”

Committee chair Leisa Smith said: “There are certainly voluntary organisations and other organisations that are not tapped into and not really known about, so if you collated them all together there would be other youth services available at a very minimal amount of cost.”

School reaction

Mark Tilling, headteacher at High Tunstall College of Science, said schools have a part to play and they need to be supported, adding it can help reduce anti-social behaviour.

He said: “It worries me the amount of anti-social behaviour that is going on, we don’t want a reduction in youth services we need to see that increase.

“We’ve got huge community resources in school which we need to be using as best as we can. We need to work together.”

The proposals were developed in consultation with young people currently using the service as well as members of the existing workforce.

The services will include one to one mentoring, group work, special educational needs sessions, LGBT sessions, sport participation and more.

The committee also heard councillors in Seaton were looking to develop a new youth offer in that area, which the council said they would support.

Sally Robinson, council director of children and join commissioning services, said a consultation would take place but she was hoping there would be no redundancies in the restructure.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service