West Lothian Council plans to re-open all 54 youth clubs for teens
West Lothian Council aims to reopen all 54 youth clubs it runs for teens across the county when the Covid pandemic eventually recedes.
Beverley Akinlami, Community Learning and Development Youth Services Manager told a meeting of the council’s Education Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP) that while a review suggested more focused work on poorer areas would be helpful it was still the plan to support the clubs that had existed before the initial lockdown if demand was there.
“We would expect to be starting back and looking to open 54 youth clubs.” she told the meeting.
“As a result of a review there’s no suggestion about closing youth club provision in any of the wards.”
Councillor Stuart Borrowman had voiced concerns about two clubs in his ward. “I’m very concious that on a couple of occasions in the past the council has sought to close down the youth clubs in Armadale and Blackridge,” he said.
"Is it clear yet what their future is and has the review been able to take into account what seems to me to be a changing landscape where young people are not just receiving services they are also providing services inter-generationally. They’re doing stuff in care homes they’re doing stuff not just attending remembrance events, but adding value. What is the means of determining their [the clubs] future?"
Beverley said: “What we are looking at, as a result of Covid, is that if there are any changing needs in wards, if there’s anything we need to do more of or if we need to move resource to another area or operate in a slightly different way, but certainly as a result of the way we are working we are reaching some young people that we weren’t able to reach before as a result of the home learning packs and the digital youth work.”
The Covid lockdown presented a major challenge in that the traditional youth groups could no longer meet in lockdown and the additional programmes that had been so successful such as practical vocational course and group sports had to be put on hold. What services could be transferred to digital provision and greater partnerships were developed with schools, community education and West Lothian College?
Beverley’s report concluded: “Moving forward, the service will continue to adapt to ensure that further impact can be achieved in these areas of focus with the deployment of resources to focus work within SIMD areas and with our most vulnerable young people. In addition, by further strengthening of partnerships, and building capacity and resilience within the workforce, we are better placed to meet the anticipated challenges of Covid 19, and any future developments.”