Please credit Rhondda People website with this news article
Let me start by apologising that I haven’t been very vocal about these cuts thus far – possibly the fact that I’m a council employee has played a massive part in that; the fear instilled in us that if we speak out we’re going to be reprimanded. Along with being all consumed by the fact that so many people are being affected by decisions made by so very few.
I am a man that holds great pride in my local community having made the decision that I wanted to work in it – to give back, if I could, to a community that has given me so much. I’m also a great believer in democracy and the way in which it enables communities to elect representatives to act, challenge and stand up for their constituents – you and me – but feel utterly let down by the lack of guts in our elected representative to challenge these cuts.
What we are facing today is not just a result of the cuts imposed by the UK and Welsh Governments – but due to a lack of foresight, a lack of strategic thinking, a lack of humanity and a clear lack of understanding of how services that we rely on within our communities are just that – they are relied upon. They provide us with opportunities of social interaction, social mobility and so on.
Why then have the council made the unexplainable decision to cut Youth Club provision that made a difference to so many? Youth Club provided me with some amazing opportunities, being a member of RCT Youth Council, Funky Dragon – The Young People’s Assembly for Wales and International Youth Exchanges to Poland, France and Germany to name but a few but above all else – it was a half way house between school and home, were rules were more relaxed (and should be!) and allowed me to flourish as a young person – interacting with my peers in a supportive, relaxed, and comfortable environment; where I was open to discuss problems at school without prejudice or bias. Youth Workers that fill them with positivity are the people who make direct and immediate change. I don’t think our councillors really understood that, rather they saw the cost associated with it and deemed it, by their criteria, to be too much. You cannot really attach a monetary value to the incredible work Youth Workers, and the centres in which they inhabit, do! Giving the young people of today the drive, enthusiasm and direction to develop into rounded adults.
RCT council have taken the decision to strip our community in Treherbert of this great organisation and with great SHAME on them that they do it. We are in “difficult times” but rather than cutting services altogether why couldn’t the council look at alternative ways of pooling these services together? Why have the council shut libraries, youth clubs, day centres, theatres (soon to be) without looking at ways in which these services can come under one roof? They believe the “12 week” window for community groups to get together in order to organise, write a business plan to take over building and council services and submit it to be sufficient. It is not – instead council officers should be supporting these community groups with this process; encouraging, nurturing and advising – they are not.
Instead that responsibility falls on us – community members of Treherbert and I am encouraged to hear that there is a small team of people who are looking to take on the community centre and to provide within it a youth club provision, a library/reading room, meeting space, coffee mornings and there are talks with other community groups to come on board to help it survive.
But for me – I am utterly saddened thus far that our Communities First organisation has done little to fight for the centre. Why are they not looking to re-locate themselves to the centre in the hope that it will strengthen the bid to council along with showing a clear want to make a positive change in the community that they represent? Please CF – get on board!
Remember, some Young People leave school carrying far heavier emotional baggage than their school bags. Let us not rip away from them, through these savage cuts, a place where they can share their thoughts and feelings, a place where they can express themselves in a positive environment, a place – above all else – that is not school, that is not home, that is not the street corner where us adults automatically vilify them, that is not the cricket, rugby or football field but a place that they can call their own.
We do not live in a wealthy area, that is true, but we are rich with community spirit and people who care. If you would like more information about the community group that are looking to take over the centre, or to suggest ways in which you think you could help then get in touch with our local councillors, Geraint Davies & Irene Pearce who are heading these things up on Geraint.R.Davies@rhondda-cynon-taff.gov.uk & Irene.E.Pearce@rhondda-cynon-taff.gov.uk
It’s not unusual!