Young people and staff from Ramsgate’s Pie Factory Music have protested today (August 22) against proposed cuts to commissioned youth services by Kent County Council (KCC).
KCC is currently consulting on plans for a ‘Family Hub’ model of delivering multiple services for youngsters aged 0-19 – or up to 25 for children with special education needs or disabilities. This includes providing outreach activities, reducing the number of permanent buildings and using digital technologies. The aim is to reduce costs and carbon footprint and help balance the council’s budget.
The programme means an overhaul of Children’s Centre services, Youth Services and Health Visiting, with KCC saying these will work alongside community-based midwifery care, bringing them together and making them easier to access.
But the changes include a proposal to stop funding youth clubs and activities currently commissioned by KCC but run by non-KCC organisations – and this will include Thanet’s Pie Factory Music which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.
KCC says: “This is due to the financial pressures the council is facing. This means that some activities and clubs would stop unless the organisations are able to find alternative funding. We are keen to hear from service users how the proposed changes might affect them.”
The cuts will mean a loss of 45% of Pie Factory’s income, hitting the services it provides in Thanet and Dover.
Some 100 young people use those services and clubs every week but if the income is lost it will be “the end of open access youth work,” says Pie CEO Zoë Carassik-Lord.
Today’s protest was held outside Dame Janet Primary where a consultation session over the changes to KCC services was being held.
Zoe, who was at the protest which included drumming and music from the group, said: “We want to raise awareness about the public consultation over changes to youth services KCC is currently running.
“We will lose 45% of our income if these cuts go ahead. It will mean the end of open access youth work with young people across Kent.
“Young people will not have a place to go outside of school hours. Eighty-five per cent of young people’s waking hours is spent outside of school and what are they going to do during these hours if they cannot go to youth clubs and place like Pie where there is open access and no expectation of outcomes or accreditations.
“They will end up hanging about in parks and what KCC saves on cutting funding to commissioned youth services will end up being spent on (extra) police, health and social services.”
The vast majority of current open access youth work is being delivered by Kent’s commissioned providers, with Pie Factory Music delivering for Thanet and Dover districts.
Pie Factory says the cuts will mean the end music and creative arts programmes, sports, cooking and bike maintenance projects, youth volunteering and social action projects, gardening groups and Duke of Edinburgh Award programmes.
Clair Bell, KCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “By bringing services together in Family Hubs and focusing on the early years of childhood development, we will ease access to the vital services and create and encourage positive opportunities for later in life.
“We want to make sure our approach is right and will meet the needs of families, children and young people in the county and so I urge everyone to give us their thoughts on our proposals.”
The consultation event at Dame Janet school (Highfield Road entrance) runs today (August 22) until 2pm.
Give your views
Respond to the consultation via KCC’s website / email / phone number by 13 September. Complete the online form at www.kent.gov.uk/familyhubservices
or send your feedback by email, letter or phone: firstname.lastname@example.org / 03000 419292.
Consultation document: https://letstalk.kent.gov.uk/25821/widgets/73505/documents/44546