Cardiff Youth Service EOTAS' Wednesday well-being group. Photo: Cardiff Youth Service.

Funding cuts halve Cardiff Youth Service staff numbers in 10 years

“We are abandoning the young people who don’t have support systems,” says councillor

HALF the number of staff are working for Cardiff Youth Service than they did 10 years ago.

In January 2012 the full-time equivalent of staff employed by Cardiff Youth Service was 130 people, but by December 2021 it was down to 65.

The service runs Youth Centres across the city along with a range of other activities from employment skills workshops to canoeing day trips and boxing classes.

This 50% drop in staff numbers was reported by Councillor Sarah Merry at a full Cardiff Council meeting in response to a question from Councillor Joe Carter about the issue.

Speaking yesterday, Coun Carter, Liberal Democrat councillor for Pentwyn, said: “Gang related activity preys on young people who are lost, and one of the best ways of trying to help these young people is with good quality youth services.

“I worry that our community is being hollowed out and that by removing these vital services we are abandoning the young people who don’t have support systems.

“I have concerns about a whole generation of young people being swept up in crime because we haven’t got the youth service that we used to have, both in terms of physical buildings and in terms of trained youth workers.”

Cardiff Youth Service is a part of the council’s education department and works with young people to develop their personal, social and educational skills as well as offering targeted support to those they consider vulnerable.

Early last year, the YMCA revealed that funding for youth services in England and Wales had fallen from £1.4bn in 2011 to £429m in 2019.

“Over the past 10 years, Cardiff Council has had to remove around a quarter of a billion pounds in savings due to UK Government cuts,” said Coun Merry, cabinet member for Education, Employment and Skills.

“This council, just like many others, has been forced to cut vitally important services and in Cardiff all our services have been affected by the cuts.

“Despite cuts, our youth services are recognised as some of the best on offer in the country and they continue to provide support and provision to children and young people who need it most.

“In a recent Estyn inspection, Cardiff Youth Service was found to provide ‘high-quality provision in prioritised areas of the city’ including a mixture of open access and targeted sessions.”

On Wednesday evening, the youth service took a group of children to watch Up at the Everyman Cinema in Cardiff Bay as part of the Welsh Government’s Winter of Wellbeing fund.

“They had food served to them and the whole cinema to themselves,” said youth mentor Natalie Simons.

She said: “It’s something they would not have thought possible or affordable to them and it was a totally new experience to the young people and staff – we felt very spoilt.”

Cardiff Youth Service watching Up at the Everyman Cinema. Photo: Cardiff Youth Service.

Cardiff Council is preparing its 2022/23 budget which will go to full council for approval on March 3 and many are hoping youth services will receive an increase in funding to address staffing levels.

Coun Merry said: “We have put up replacement funding in the form of Youth Innovation Grants which have been used for staff provision across the city and we have formed significant partnerships with organisations like the YMCA and Cathays Community Centre to ensure youth services can continue.

“We have ambitious plans for the city and we have every intention of ensuring our youth services continue to help those most in need.”