'We need more funding to help more children'

A woman with blonde hair
Image caption,

Helen Roy runs the after school club wanted not wasted

  • Published

A woman who runs an after school club says there needs to be a "different approach" to services for young people.

Helen Roy, a child counsellor who runs after school club, Wanted Not Wasted (WOW), in the Bournville area of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, said they regularly have to turn children away.

As part of the Your Voice Your Vote campaign, Ms Roy said there needs to be options of "alternative provisions" to help children - and that they need more funding.

Ms Roy said: "It's really important we are here because children who live on this estate have poor outcomes compared to other children just because of where they live."

Image caption,

The club has room for 12 children to attend for two nights a week

Helen Roy set up WOW in 2012 after realising there was a lack of activities for children to do in the area.

They aim to provide somewhere which is non-threatening, safe and fun for two nights a week for children aged five to 16 years old.

Ms Roy said: "We want to build up children's resilience, their ability to cope with the issues they face in their life and to reach adulthood safely.

"We want them to build friendships that are going to help them rather than hurt them. We try to do all that here.

"We also reduce loneliness, reduce isolation which all contributes to mental health - this is more preventative.

"But we are here for them if anything does go wrong and things do get really bad too."

Ms Roy added that professionals are under "so much pressure" to help children in often a short amount of time.

In her role as councillor Ms Roy says she always has a waiting list of families who are desperate for help.

Image caption,

Children queue to enter the club

Ms Roy said she would want any government to understand how much support children need.

According to the Local Government Association, funding for youth services from local authorities in England and Wales saw a decline of 70% between 2011 and 2019.

Since 2011, youth services - including clubs and workers - have been cut by 69%.

More than 4,500 youth work jobs have been cut and 750 youth centres have closed.

"They do need alternative provision, they need stuff in the community, where they feel safe and where they can build long term relationships," she said.

She added they would ask for more funding to know if they can expand to help more children.

She said: "We would ask for funding to continue, for it to be more consistent.

"North Somerset Council have funded us for the last two years and given us £10,000 this year and last year but every year we are wondering are we going to find the money to carry on."

She added that more thought needed to go into education and called for a "different approach" to children's services that was not focused on exam results.

"In an ideal world it would be wonderful to have more resources so we can open for longer and for more days.

"We've had to reduce the amount of days we're open due to lack of funding.

"The children run from school to get one of the 12 spaces."

Image caption,

Aston is 14 and says he really likes the after school club

Aston, 14, said he "loves" the after school club and would like it if it was on more.

He said: "It's really fun and there is a lot of really good people here.

"There is a lot of things to do.

"If I wasn't here I'd probably be sat at home playing on my X-Box so it gets me out the house.

"They are really supportive here - they'll help you with any problem you have."

The Conservatives have made a manifesto pledge to require 18 year olds to take part in a form of national service if the party wins the general election on 4 July. And in 2023 they stated that 12,000 young people would benefit from the redevelopment of 44 youth centres.

Labour's manifesto states the party will invest £95m in Young Futures Hubs, which will have youth workers, mental health support workers, and careers advisers on hand to support young people’s mental health and avoid them being drawn into crime.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats plan on introducing a new cabinet minister for Children and Young People, elevating the position from the junior ministerial level.

They aim to address the underfunding and neglect of children’s mental health services, youth services and youth justice services.

Reform say no-one will pay income tax if they earn under £20,000 and child benefits will be increased. They say strong families with less financial pressures make for happier families and happier young people.

The Green Party say they would restore the funding withdrawn from youth services since 2010 and ensure local authorities are properly funded to deliver youth services including the youth workers who play a key role in keeping young people safe.

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This closed on 4th July 2024.

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