Clubs for young people, training courses and sports activities are in line for a major funding boost as Westminster City Council reintroduces direct funding for youth services.
The council has committed to providing £500,000 each year for youth services. Organisations and groups running facilities like sports clubs will be able to bid for the money if they can demonstrate their activity benefits local young people.
In a speech to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Avenues – a voluntary organisation providing activities outside of school hours for young people living in North Westminster – Cllr Nickie Aiken, Leader of Westminster City Council, said:
“When we had to make the tough decision to withdraw funding for youth services three years ago, we lost the trust of many people, but more importantly we alienated young people in our city. That’s not the type of council I want to lead and so from this September we will make £500,000 available each year to invest in the best youth services across Westminster.
“We will work with youth organisations over the summer to design the best ways to invest this money, and think creatively about how together we can reach and change as many lives as possible.”
The council leader told the audience of youth workers that the era of major funding by local authorities for local projects had passed, but warned that a growing climate of gang violence and county lines drugs activity meant the authority had to take action.
Cllr Aiken added: “I firmly believe that well run services targeted at helping our young people to develop into productive members of society have a massive role to play.
“Politicians have to back their words with actions to win back trust. That means that sometimes admitting you were wrong and changing your position if circumstances dictate. Our Band H taxpayer residents who are paying the voluntary community contribution have made it clear that youth services are a priority for them, and we have set aside £130,000 for additional projects.”