Teenager voices youth club closure concerns

Kaleb Barry pictured outside the Manor West Youth project on Brierton Lane.
Kaleb Barry pictured outside the Manor West Youth project on Brierton Lane.

A BRAVE teenager stood up in a packed civic hall and asked Mayor Stuart Drummond about the future of his youth club.

Kaleb Barry, 13, is one of around 80 young people about to lose their youth activities, which are run from the Manor West Centre, in Hartlepool.

From next month, the centre, in Brierton Lane, will no longer be able to host its youth project or job club after Government funding was withdrawn through the £5m Working Neighbourhood Fund.

Kaleb fears that without this valuable service, he and youngsters like him could be left on the streets with nothing to do.

During last week’s full council meeting, young Kaleb asked the Mayor: “What is going to happen to the young people?” and pointed out key projects for those working towards various certificates including sports leadership and lifeguard skills.

Mayor Drummond said: “Manor West Youth Project is one of the victims of the national cuts.

“I’m very much aware of the young people trained up in the areas mentioned and a whole host of other young people keen to follow their lead.

“The money isn’t going to be there but the youth service will try to work with evert single young person who wants to try and continue on.”

But not happy with this answer, English Martyrs School pupil Kaleb asked the Mayor: “But how will you keep it going?”

Mayor Drummond said: “It’s ultimately a decision for Manor West.

“The council are almost ‘piggies in the middle’ just passing money down from the Government to voluntary and community organisations.

“It’s up to the council to work with voluntary and community groups to look at priorities. “Anything involving young people and getting them active is right at the top of the list of priorities.”

After the meeting, Kaleb, whose proud parents are Nicola Kenny and Andy Barry, told the Mail: “If I hadn’t stood up, lots of people would have nothing to do.

“I wanted the Mayor to go away and think about it. “People will probably just end up on the streets now.

“Lots of youth leaders will end up without a job, it’s just a shame.”

Centre manager Julie Marshall said it costs £1,500 a month to put on the activities and added: “We have been here eight years now and the kids aren’t hanging around the streets or drinking like they used to.

“But I think it’s going to go back to the days of anti-social behaviour.”

She added that youth activities are being run on a Saturday night by volunteers, and they are having to look at ways of raising funds themselves.