TEENAGERS using a youth club in Cheadle have pledged to help fund-raise to keep the facility open in response to proposed changes to youth services by Staffordshire County Council.
Staffordshire County Council is changing the way it runs the county's youth services and its plans could see up to 400 youth workers losing their jobs and being replaced by volunteers, as it looks to save £2.8 million a year.
Youth club buildings will be handed to the Strategic Property Unit, Staffordshire County of Voluntary Youth Services and other partners to look at the future usage and position of each property.
Cheadle Youth Club meets every Tuesday and Thursday night at Station Road in Cheadle for young people aged 11 to 19.
Members are pleading for the club not to close and have even offered to pay extra admission and do fund-raising activities to keep the club open.
Post & Times reporter Abbey Buxton visited the youth club on Thursday, March 27, to speak to the members.
Ryan Alcock, aged 17, of Churchill Road, Cheadle, said: "I disagree with what they are doing.
"This is where everyone goes and if we didn't have this we'd just be bored sitting outside shops and stuff.
"I'd definitely be up for raising money to keep it going if we need to."
Josh Large, aged 17, of Tean Road, Cheadle, said: "I don't think they should be looking at closing youth clubs because it's pointless.
"If they shut this then everything will go hectic in Cheadle and there will be nowhere for us to chill.
"Everyone comes here and we play pool or whatever to keep us out of trouble.
"I'd be up for fund-raising to keep it open."
Liam Wheeldon, aged 17, of The Birches, Cheadle, said: "It's a stupid decision. I come here every Thursday because there's nothing else to do during the week.
"It's the only place to go and all my mates come here.
"I'd definitely be up for fund-raising to keep it open."
Kyle Shaw, aged 17, of Attlee Road, Cheadle, said: "There is nothing else to do on a Thursday and Tuesday, especially this time of year, so I disagree with it being cut.
"It keeps us away from getting into trouble, even if we are doing nothing wrong we get into trouble just for hanging around.
"I'd definitely be up for fund-raising to keep it going."
Kirstie Mellor, aged 15, of Tean, said: "It's stupid because this is somewhere for everyone to be with their friends and make new friends.
"We can play games here or just chill out and it's better than being outside especially in winter, and we're not annoying anyone by hanging around, or being judged.
"I'd be willing to help with any fund-raising if we need to."
Lauren Callear, aged 14, of The Birches, Cheadle, said: "I don't think they should shut it down because it's a place to go and it's fun.
"I'd be willing to fund-raise; if I didn't come here I'd just be sitting at home bored or hanging around on the streets."
Becky Howson, aged 14, of The Birches, Cheadle, said: "This is somewhere to come instead of hanging around on the streets and doing nothing and causing a nuisance to people who don't like seeing kids on the streets, but that's what we'll be doing if they shut it.
"I'm willing to help keep it open by fund-raising."
Natasha Callear, aged 17, of The Birches, Cheadle, said: "It will be bad if it were to close because there will be nothing else to do.
"I think it's really good here and I'd be willing to help with fund-raising; I haven't been coming here long but it seems like a really good place to hang out and I'd like to keep coming."
Harry Tudor, aged 18, Wye Close, Cheadle, said: "I think it's a bad idea to change things, this keeps all the kids off the streets and is a nice warm place to come with lovely staff.
"If it wasn't for this place I'd be out on the streets bored probably getting into trouble.
"The leaders have helped me with issues and I can talk to them about anything and they help me out.
"I'd fund-raise to keep it open, it's an important facility for Cheadle."
Staffordshire's youth services cover young people aged 13 to 19, or 25 years for those with a learning difficulty or disability. Currently, the county council provides a traditional universal open access service.
However, four out of five of the 73,315 young people in Staffordshire did not use the service in the last year, which cost £8.73m to provide.
Under the new proposals the county council says it is moving away from traditional building-based youth centres and it wants to work closer with schools, colleges, voluntary and community groups to provide a wider range of opportunities for all young people in their communities.
Support would continue for the Duke of Edinburgh, Bremen Exchange, V-Talent Contract and National Citizenship Schemes, which all help to increase young people's employability, and social and life skills.
The council published a survey to hear from young people, particularly the majority in Staffordshire who do not currently use its youth services, to understand why and the issues they consider to be important to them.
Of the 3,000 residents who took part in the consultation around 2,500 were young people and they gave their views not only on what they wanted from youth services, but what was important for them in life.
Top issues for young people included exams, future careers and school work.
Mark Sutton, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet Support Member for Public Health and Community Safety, said: “The role of young people is hugely important to the county council and we want to make the most of the resources we have available to help to support them in their ambitions to do well at school, get a good job and lead rewarding lives. Things which young people have told us are important to them.
“When we need to protect frontline services, we do have to spend every pound carefully and clearly it is very difficult to justify continuing to spend millions on youth clubs which three-quarters of young people have already chosen not to use.
“Young people lead busy, active lives today and there are so many activities, projects and clubs across Staffordshire and we want to ensure schemes which give people real life skills, such as the Duke of Edinburgh are made available to more people and that we also support our more vulnerable young people in Staffordshire.
“As part of the proposals, we plan to look on a district by district basis about what is available and how we can better meet the modern day needs of Staffordshire’s young people.”