Youth service hopes to deliver more for less in new sessions

THE new head youth worker for Ponteland has pledged to be pro-active when putting together his new programme.

Ashley Brown told members of Ponteland Town Council that the types of activities, and when they will be held, may change depending on the views of local youngsters.

Northumberland Youth Service is having to cope with losing £351,000 from its £1.3million budget for 2011/12.

In advance of the cut, it restructured its operations from 14 partnership areas, based at specific schools, to four — north, west, south east and mid-Northumberland — with three dedicated youth workers for each one.

Officials believe the move will mean the service can deliver more with less and Mr Brown, who is Senior Youth Worker for the West Area, is optimistic about what can be achieved in his sector.

“This is a good opportunity to be creative with our sessions,” he said.

“It’s not about completely moving away from the traditional way of doing things, but, for example, it would not make much sense being open on a Monday if the demand is low and more young people want to come along on a Friday.

“I can tell you that me and my team will take a pro-active approach to working with young people so that they are happy with what’s on offer and in developing partnerships with local organisations.”

Mr Brown has years of youth work experience in the south east of the county.

Northumberland Youth Service’s Deputy Manager John Smith said there will be a minimum of 16 hours per week allocated to Pontelan.

He explained how money from the town council would be spent if it awarded the service a grant.

“We would use it for a mixture of street-based and centre-based activities,” he said.

“There are very few young people on the streets in the winter months so we intend to do more centre-based work then and vice-versa in the summer months in order to support as many young people as we can at the best times.”

The organisation’s core budget is for the 13 to 19 age range, but it can help older and younger people if funding comes from an alternative source.

Coun Alan Chilton warned Mr Brown: “You will have to fight the perception that the NE20 Ponteland postcode doesn’t need any funding because we are presumed to be all millionaires.”

A grant proposal has been made and the authority will make a decision at a future full council meeting.