Instability hampers London youth services

10th July 1998 at 01:00
LONDON'S youth service is struggling for funds but is still managing to provide effective services to many disadvantaged young people.

A report published this week by London Youth Matters shows that at about Pounds 53 million, spending on youth services by London local authorities has dropped by 1.3 per cent in the past year, and by nearly 15 per cent since 1993.

Councils concentrate their spending on the most disadvantaged, while the majority of the more traditional club, centre and activity-based youth work is now done by the voluntary sector.

Martin Howie, author of the report, The Youth Service in London - painting the picture - and development officer of London Youth Matters, said that the lack and uncertainty of funding is the greatest problem.

"Right across London, local authority officers and people in voluntary organisations are spending a major part of their time developing partnerships and submitting applications for additional funding," he said.

"There is an urgent need to put the youth service on a firmer financial basis so that longer-term plans can be developed and staff can spend more time on face-to-face work with young people."

Despite the funding crisis, the report gives examples of a wide range of successful work, including drugs education, crime prevention, arts and sports activities. Gaps in provision include sufficient counselling and advice services, emergency accommodation for the young homeless, and affordable leisure and sports facilities.

The report details the back-ground of deprivation against which youth work in London takes place. Eighteen of the capital's 32 local authorities are among the 50 most deprived areas in the country. One in five dependent children in London lives in households with no wage earner and, in the boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Islington and Hackney, lone parents make up more than 40 per cent of all families with children.

In one area of London, 39 per cent of 11-year-olds look after themselves during the school holidays while their parents are at work.

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