Grove Park youth worker slams Lewisham Council youth club changes after stabbing (From News Shopper)
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Grove Park youth worker slams Lewisham Council youth club changes
A YOUTH worker says the Mayor of Lewisham will have "blood on his hands" if he drives through plans to axe some of the borough’s youth clubs.
The outburst came after a 14-year-old boy was stabbed outside the Ladywell Centre, in Dressington Avenue, last week before first-aid-trained youth workers rushed to save his life.
The teenage victim was taken to hospital suffering from serious injuries.
Plans to save £1,034,000 by 2015 were recommended at a Mayor and cabinet meeting last Wednesday.
Two youth clubs - Oakridge in Downgam and Grove Park Youth Club - would no longer be funded by the council, which would also pull staff from six community-run facilities.
Grove Park Youth Club volunteer Tommy McNally says targeting youth services is "criminal" and will result in more young knife attacks and deaths.
The 27- year-old said: "It just proves how vital these youth clubs are.
"How many examples do we need to give the borough of how they are literally saving lives?
"A youth club is where you can spend your evening.
"They step outside and this is the kind of thing that’s happening.
"Lewisham is one of the most impoverished boroughs in the country and we are putting our youngsters on the street.
"It is the biggest crime in this century if they do go."
The father, who grew up in a tower block in Lewisham, added: "If the mayor goes through with this he will have blood on his hands."
Lewisham mayor Sir Steve Bullock says reshuffling youth services will "maximise" the amount of youth work taking place but will be delivered on the streets, in churches and schools as well as club buildings.
He told News Shopper: "We need to make a distinction between youth clubs and buildings and youth work.
"What we are trying to do is make sure, in very difficult financial circumstances, that everyone is facing, that we maximise the amount of youth work taking place and make sure it is the most effective.
"Some of the good work takes place in particular buildings but also now there is a lot of youth work on the streets.
"Some young people don’t want to go to youth clubs which is why we have workers out there in the community working with young people."
He went on to say that cuts to youth facilities would be "transitional" over the next year and not delivered in a "big bang".
Responding to the allegations he would be responsible for an increase in teenage knife attacks, he added: "I think that is quite a despicable comment."
Ladywell residents praised staff at the Ladywell Centre for their quick action following the stabbing and said there had never been trouble from the youth club before.
Laura Morton, 32, who takes her four-month-old son Barnaby to the next-door playgroup, said: "It’s pretty shocking. It is quite surprising around here because it is quite a family residential area.
"Very good reactions of the staff."
A Lewisham Council spokeswoman said: "These proposals are about creating a more modern, responsive youth service, where resources are focused on meeting the changing characteristics and needs of young people.
"Street based youth work will continue as well as key support for those who need it the most.
"The new youth provision will extend beyond youth clubs and centres.
"For young people it will mean new experiences and opportunities in and beyond Lewisham, being able to access more diverse activities and services and developing skills that will help young people to flourish and become successful adults.”
Anyone with information on the attack, which took place around 9.30pm, should call Lewisham CID on 07788 916864 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
A 14-year-old boy was charged with attempted murder on February 20.
A 14-year-old and a 15-year-old boy have been released on bail pending further enquiries.