Islington eyes youth services shake-up that could see clubs shut but other projects boosted

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council: 'Young people know more about what they want than I

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council: 'Young people know more about what they want than I do' - Credit: Archant

Some of Islington’s youth clubs could be scrapped so their funding can be ploughed into other projects, the council has revealed.

'Too swish': Youth hub Platform (Picture: Nikhilesh Haval)

'Too swish': Youth hub Platform (Picture: Nikhilesh Haval) - Credit: Archant

Islington’s newly elected youth council will this year advise town hall chiefs on how best to spend the £3.5million that was ringfenced for young people in last month’s budget.

Leader Cllr Richard Watts said it was time to accept some of the money was no longer being put to the best use.

And he questioned whether Islington’s flagship Lift and Platform youth centres were putting young people off by being “too swish” – though he was keen to stress they were not under threat.

“Quite a lot of the more traditional youth clubs have withered on the vine in the last few years,” he told the Gazette.

“We need to make sure we have buildings that are good quality – not just a guy with a table tennis table and that’s it.

“There’s about a million and a half things for young people to do in our borough but they feel put off, or they are too expensive to afford.

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“No one has ever put together a list of what young people can go to.”

He plans to launch a consultation over the summer that will ask young people to be honest about what they want from the council.

And he wants to spend more cash on communication so youngsters know what activities are on offer.

As well as securing £3.5m of youth funding, the council has pledged an extra £500,000 for mentoring services to help young people at risk of falling into gang membership.

“Now we are confident we have got this money for four years, it’s the opportunity to run a consultation with young people,” said Cllr Watts. “They know much more about what they want than I do.

“That will be a thing we are doing over the summer, particularly now we have got an elected young mayor and youth council.

“We’ll be asking: what do you want out of [youth services]? How far do you want to travel?

“Some young people have said they feel a bit put off going into Lift in Barnsbury and Platform in Finsbury Park because they look too swish, or it ‘isn’t for them’.

“That’s a phrase I have heard quite a lot from young people, so we need to understand more from young people.

“I’m not saying they are under threat – they aren’t. But we do need to look at stuff we are doing.”