Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Nowt to Do"

Recently, I went along to a meeting on the development of the 'Youth Offer' here in Darlington.

The scheme has been prompted by the Government's Education and Inspections Act 2006. The intention is to ensure that there is comprehensive, accurate and accessible information regarding activity provision for young people aged between 13 and 19. Crucially, young people are going to be involved in designing, delivering and assessing that provision, in consultation with the private and voluntary sectors.

The meeting I went to was a stakeholder gathering, where representatives from various voluntary groups were present. Clearly, good progress has been made, and I was impressed by the wealth of information which has been brought together already - for example, at the Education Village here in Haughton alone, the following groups meet;

Kimchungdowkwon Martial Arts
Sukona Karate Club
Aikido Martial Arts
Darlington Swimming Club
Waterbabies Swimming
Haughton Volleyball Club
Darlington Junior Netball Club
Haughton Community Badminton Club
Body Attack, Body Vive & Body Combat
School of Rock & Pop Music
Socatots Childrens' Football
Sonya-Marie Academy of Dance

The vision of the Youth Offer here in Darlington is that never again will a young person be able to say that they have "nowt to do". A big ambition, but a worthy aim. I'm inherently suspicious of groups and political parties which say that they have the Holy Grail as far as youth provision is concerned, but are really peddling their own agenda. The Youth Offer initiative has the advantage of liaising with young people themselves about the services they want to see provided, rather than those which some adults think they need.

The Youth Offer is an important initiative - perhaps one of the most important ovre the next 4 years - an I'll blog about it again as it develops.


miketually said...

The timing of the groups at the Ev is a problem, as far as getting kids off the streets. Most of the groups listed, as far as I'm aware, run on a Saturday morning, at which time most teens are still in bed. How many groups run at the EV on weekday evenings after 7pm? How many run after 7pm on a weekend?

Many of these groups are aimed at much younger children, mainly primary school-aged. How many of the groups are aimed at the over-tens?

Judging by how full the car park is on a Saturday, many of the people using these facilities are coming in from other areas of the town. The cars also imply most of the children are from the younger end of thre age range. (I've never seen more than three bikes in the bike racks.)

The groups are also very expensive - £2.50 for a 45 minute session, for example, with children having to pay a pound for any sessions they miss. How much of this money goes to Kajima? If I wanted to set up a football team, how much would it cost to book a large hall for an weekday evening training session and how much for the use of an outdoor pitch and the changing facilities?

Anonymous said...


That is very interesting. I held a 2 hour meeting at the Village in the Summer and it cost in the region of £45 for 21 hours. Needless to say we have not been back.

Nick. Don't you find it rather distateful that money for hiring the Education Village outside of school hours should go to the shareholders of a private company miles from Darlington and not stay within Darlington for the benfit of the children attending the Education village?

One of the former Headteachers of Haughton estimated that he would lose £60,000 per year from his school budget for hiring out his school premises which he needed for the benefit of the children attending Haughton.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes.

Sorry Mike and Nick. That last posting was mine. You should get a system in which allows posters to correct their postings like the Town Liar.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes again...

Curses. The meeting lasted for 2 hours and not 21 hours.

miketually said...

Alan, if I ever mess up a blog comment I copy and paste it into a new comment and fix the error, then delete the first comment. I usually add a note to the second comment to explain the first, deleted message.

ian holme said...

Ultimatley, PFI or not, the taxpayer carries the cost of these new schools.
Therefore, it is simply wrong that school facilities, however procured, should be run on a commercial basis out of hours.

All income generated by the facilities should be pumped straight back in to school, for the benefit of the kids and wider school community.

I dont pretend to know where the fault for this lies. Was it PFI rules laid down by government? or a result of DBCs negotiating skills?