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This scheme has open doors for many young people

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: March 05, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

Joseph Richardson, Jay Dennis, Joseph Sherwin, Olivia Barlow-Young and Edward Daly map out their next expedition.

Joseph Richardson, Jay Dennis, Joseph Sherwin, Olivia Barlow-Young and Edward Daly map out their next expedition.

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PARENTS and young people have spoken of their fears that the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme in Leek could close if Staffordshire County Council goes ahead with its proposal to make youth workers redundant.

Milward Hall Youth Centre in Salisbury Street caters for around 400 young people between the ages of 14 and 19, to help them complete their bronze, silver and gold awards.

They meet every Tuesday and take part in weekend activities as part of the scheme.

However, proposals by the county council would see 120 youth workers' jobs under threat.

The plans have raised fears that many clubs could close.

Westwood College student Joseph Richardson, aged 15, said the proposals were "hardly the action of a caring council".

He said: "The council has to remember that people of our age will be voting at the next county council elections.

"They do not seem to consider how damaging their actions are.

"This is reckless and not thought through. The Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) scheme has helped many young people find a career."

Joseph Sherwin, aged 15, of Leek, said he was just sitting at home until he got involved.

He said: "The DofE gives you great opportunities, like first aid courses.

"We also go on many expeditions which has been really good for me.

"People could not afford to go on these if it was made private, so we would miss out."

Jay Dennis, aged 16, of Leek said that attending Milward Hall had given him many new skills.

He said: "This has help me to grow up.

"It would not be fair if people had to pay to do separate DofE classes."

Lucy Deavall, aged 15, of Leek, said: "I have seen people go from strength the strength by completing their Dof E Awards.

"The leaders are brilliant and will do anything for you."

Olivia Barlow-Young, aged 16, said she wanted to join the police force and the DofE scheme was highly important

She said: "If Milward Hall is forced to close I cannot do the scheme.

"I want to join the police force and completing the DofE looks better on your CV.

"I have also met a lot more people and I am planning my first expedition."

Edward Daly, aged 15, said that the people who run the Milward Hall project were "stars".

He said: "This has given me independence and I am now working towards my silver. It has helped me tremendously and given me more friends."

Edward's dad Brendan said he found it hard to understand how successful clubs could be lost

He said: "This is a fantastic service. I think relying totally on volunteers is unrealistic. It simply will not work.

"The council should be giving young people help to develop opportunities for the future. Once lost it will be difficult to get it back."

Parent and volunteer Steve Emberson said: "It is amazing what young people get out of the DofE scheme.

"It gives them self confidence and a new experience.

"Young people here will not access any other service if this closes.

"My daughter wants to go into medicine and the Dof E will help with a university application.

"If the scheme went private many would not be able to take part."

Another parent, Marion Aston, of Cheddleton, said her three sons attend Milward Hall.

She said: "It has been amazing what they have learnt.

"They have taken part in first aid courses and team building courses, which is positive experience. "When they go on expeditions you know they are well looked after and are safe.

"Parents need to know what could be lost as this scheme has opened up doors for many young people in the town."

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