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Cumbrian service under threat

PART-TIME youth workers in Cumbria have been forced out of the service because they could not afford the training expected of them, the conference heard.

"Some of our people on four, six or eight-hour weekly contracts were expected to become professional at great personal expense and left," said Cumbrian delegate Hugh Branney.

Fellow Cumbrian delegate Pete Alger told FE Focus that staff with small-hours' contracts had been required to do one day's training a month for their youth and community diploma, but that expenses covered just 72 hours a year. "Things such as travel and child care were not reimbursed," he said.

The Cumbrian service, once awarded a charter mark for excellence, has become the first in the country to be absorbed by Connexions, the mntoring scheme for young people. Peter Birbeck, acting chief executive of Connexions Cumbria, said: "This is a historic issue arising from when the service was run by the county council. Our consultations with the unions have been positive to date."

However, delegates fear the transfer could put at risk elements of youth work in Cumbria. "We used to have a budget of pound;1.6 million, but only half has come with us - pound;800,000 has been left with county area committees," said Mr Alger. He said that with funding for non-Connexions' youth work determined annually, back-up projects such as recreational drop-in centres could finish.

"If such things don't continue that will detract from the positive aspects of Connexions," said Mr Alger.

Andrew Mourant

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