MORE than 50 people braved the weather to stage a protest rally over Staffordshire County Council's proposals to change the provision of youth services across the county.
The rally in Stafford on Saturday was organised by the 'Youth Against Staffordshire Cuts' group, which has now gathered more than 7,000 named petition signatures since it was started a few weeks ago.
Following the number passing the 5,000 marked the proposals will now have to be debated by the full council.
The authority intends to make 120 paid workers, who run youth clubs across the county, redundant and replace them with volunteers. At present there are around 280 volunteers. This has led to fears that many clubs will close.
Clarke Lear, who is a Member of the Youth Parliament for the Staffordshire Moorlands, said: "Young people and adults have just stood in the rain to give their view on the cuts to the youth service. Youth services matter.
"This doesn't just apply to the young people that attend the youth clubs but to the actual structure and cohesion of the community as well. To keep a good community, every group must be well catered for.
"How is this happening by cutting this needed service? The council wants to focus on the vulnerable, but at a young age we all have a period of difficulty.
"'Focusing on the vulnerable' will only make people more so. Don't let them destroy young people's hopes."
Sam Hale, of Cheadle, said: "Staffordshire Youth Service is far more than the jobs and buildings - it's an organisation that brings young people together from all walks of life and makes us better people."
Trudie McGuiness, Labour Prospective Parliamentary candidate for the Staffordshire Moorlands, said: "Young people from across the county came together on Saturday to campaign to save our youth services. It speaks volumes about the strength of feeling that even on a cold, wet winter's day people came out.
"Young people from the Moorlands and elsewhere spoke at the rally about the confidence, opportunities and support which youth workers have given them. To cut this invaluable support out of the lives of our young people would be unforgivable."