Defiant and angry young people in Rotherham occupied their youth centre against cuts in the service for three hours last night (Thursday).
The occupation at Dalton Youth Centre in a former mining area was one of three sit-ins at youth centres in the town which face closure because of the Tory-led Coalition spending cuts.
Their demands are to keep the centres open and stop job cuts among youth service workers.
‘They’ve got money for all these things those at the top want, but not for young people,’ said 15-year old Stacy.
‘They’re giving out all these bonuses to bankers when that money could be spent keeping youth centres open for young people. Young people will end up taking drugs and drinking if they close because there’s nothing for them to do.’
The Save Our Service group, supported by people aged from 12 to 20, is organised through Facebook and Twitter. They’ve already won support from the Unison union, which represents youth service workers threatened with the sack.
Students from Sheffield University, who led an occupation before Christmas against rises in tuition fees, visited the occupation. Local trade unionists are also building a campaign.
One in three personal advisers in Rotherham’s Connexions youth service face losing their jobs. If youth centres close youth workers will lose their jobs. More than 500 signatures had been collected on a petition against cutting funding for youth services.
Andrew, aged 19, said, ‘It’s the bankers that messed up and our generation that gets the cuts. It’s not fair. We need the service because a lot of young people would not have been able to go as far as they have in education without it.
‘We’re the next generation and without the service young people have nowhere to go.’
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