On Saturday 22nd September over 100 young people and youth workers were joined by MPs, councillors and Trade Union officials at the Midlands ChooseYouth Rally in Wolverhampton, held in partnership with the TUC. ChooseYouth is an alliance of over 30 national youth sector organisations and trade unions campaigning against cuts to youth services. At the rally, young people spoke about the importance youth services had made in their lives and urged MPs in the Midlands to stop damaging cuts. In the West Midlands, spending on youth services has been cut by over 11% since 2010 and more than 23 youth centres have been closed.
Marie Taylor, Vice president of Community and Youth Workers section of Unite the union comments:
‘At a time when young people face significantly more challenges in their lives, with tuition fees trebled, high unemployment and cuts to benefits, it is vital that government policy and local councils do not compound their difficulties by cutting services they rely on to deal with these challenges. A professional youth service to provide support and informal education should be a basic right of young people in Britain today.’
The rally featured speeches from Wolverhampton Youth Council, Ian Austin, MP Dudley North, Pat McFadden, MP Wolverhampton South East, Rob Johnston, Regional Secretary of Midlands TUC and Doug Nicholls, General Secretary of the GFTU.
Hannah Scragg, Chair of Wolverhampton City Youth Council and Youth MP for Wolverhampton, said:
‘Wolverhampton Youth Council has worked extremely hard planning the Rally which has shown decision makers that services for young people change lives and cannot afford to be lost.’
The Rally was sponsored by the TUC which is campaigning against youth unemployment in the Black Country which has been increased by government cuts to the public sector. In the Black Country, 1 in 10 young people are now unemployed which is double the national average. The TUC has launched a Charter for a Future that Works which calls for local MPs, councillors, employers and other organisations to pledge to take positive action on youth unemployed. Black Country MPs Emma Reynolds, Adrian Bailey and Ian Austin have already signed the Charter. To ask your local MP to sign the Charter visit: www.tuc.org.uk/blackcountrycharter