Keep proper journalism alive. It's time to Back the Cable
The Bristol Cable

The cost of cutting youth services

Edition 1

Delroy Hibbert is a Project Manager with the charity Full Circle, based in St Pauls, Bristol.

In August 2011, I watched as young men and women threw missiles at the police in a cat and mouse chase around the St. Pauls area.

The riots put a spotlight on how the economic conditions were affecting the young, especially those now classed as NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training), and unemployed. At a time when British industry was suffering skill shortages, concerned voices in industry spoke about the unprepared, workshy British youth too feckless to graft and not giving a damn about anything and anyone.

What the headlines didn’t show was how much the government’s austerity agenda, often promoted by leading business figures, was affecting young people. Instead of support, at a time when youth unemployment was soaring, the Coalition cut the Educational Maintenance Award.  The EMA had enabled students from the poorest families to stay in full-time education by giving them up to £30 a week towards their books, travel, and other associated costs.

Cutting it resulted in students dropping out of courses, with almost half of colleges having fewer students in the year following the scrapping of EMA than the previous year.

At the same time the Government began what appeared to be a promising push towards apprenticeships, but there was a flaw in the plan. Despite encouraging figures, not everyone who signs up to apprenticeships actually has an employer, as many are signed up by colleges and training providers and required to find their own work placements. Some are asked to leave after the first year, placing them at risk of becoming NEETs again. This time even more disillusioned than before.

Just days before the riots, Chavez Campbell, a young man in London quite prophetically stated: “There’ll be riots” when asked about the effect of cuts on youth services. Immediately after the riots David Cameron said the issues behind what he termed ‘broken society’ were “back at the top of his political agenda”.

With the majority of cuts yet to come into effect, and widespread hypocrisy in both the public and private sector, it seems that lessons haven’t yet been learnt; voices aren’t being heard. The short sightedness of the government continues, closing youth centres and projects aimed at young people, on top of the loss of 3,000 youth work jobs countrywide in 2011-12. These cuts and changes in funding mean many young people have lost the support networks that they had come to rely on.

I am seeing the results of this in my youth work in St Pauls, with the hallmarks of poverty and lack of opportunity, such as drug-dealing, street conflict, gang activity and violent crime on the increase. This situation is either ignored or snubbed by local and national politics and media.  What will it take for them to notice? What will it take to invest in our future? Hopefully young people and their families will continue to make themselves heard.





Join 2,500 Cable members redefining local media

Your support will help the Cable grow, deepening our connections in the city and investigating the issues that matter most in our communities.

Join now

What makes us different?

Related content

St Paul’s, through the eyes of the reverend patrolling for peace

For years, the Reverend Dawnecia Palmer – a United Nations Peacemaker – has worked on Bristol's inner-city streets. After a recent spate of stabbings rocked St Paul's, she's praying for an end to the 'pandemic of the blade'.

Deal to reopen crucial St Paul’s dentists could be ‘sorted soon’, campaigners say

Hopeful messages emerge at community event hosted by campaigners, with dental care provider in detailed contract discussions with local health bosses that could see services return.

Carnival returns to St Pauls, with a homage to its heritage

After a three-year hiatus, St Pauls Carnival will return next month. The director of a recent documentary on this colourful, vital celebration of Caribbean culture reflects on its historical importance.

Developer withdraws planning proposals for ‘grim’ and ‘Stalinist’ St Pauls flats

Controversial plans for a four-storey block of flats in St Pauls have been withdrawn. The boss of developers Clayewater Homes says they spent “a lot...

Photos: St Pauls Carnival in all its glory

The overcast skies could not dampen the vibes and colours of arguably Bristol's most important cultural event.

Carnival is back – just in time to celebrate its 50th anniversary!

Since starting in 1968, St Pauls Carnival has become recognised as one of Bristol’s most iconic and culturally significant events. After three years off, Carnival is now back thanks to the hard graft of many in the local community.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning