A MINISTER on Portland has suggested churches could play a supporting role for young people in the event of youth services being cut.
The Revd Christopher Briggs, from the Portland Methodist Circuit, said churches could identify where gaps were and meet the needs of young people.
Dorset County Council recently launched a six-week consultation looking at ways it could provide a more effective youth service focusing on prevention.
The county council’s children’s services budget, currently £57 million, will have to be reduced by at least £5m in 2017, and by the same again – or more – by 2020.
The Echo revealed last month how the £2.2 million being spent on youth services needs to be reduced by at least £1 million.
The Revd Briggs said it was likely there would be a ‘knock-on effect’ and if that was the case he’d rise to the challenge to help where possible.
He said: “We have a project called the Ripple effect which sits under our Portland Methodist Circuit which is the name of the project which includes two youth workers, a family and community worker and work that goes on in that area.
“Every Saturday night I’ve got my youth worker out on the streets in Portland going places where we know young people are, where frankly they are ok but sometimes they are at risk.
“We are not financially driven. Our approach is from the sense of what needs to be done, let’s find a way of doing it.
“We obviously can’t cover everything that the youth services do but what we will do is look to see then where gaps are and the needs of young people."
There are 22 council-run youth centres which employ 236 members of staff.
The Revd Briggs said: “It’s very difficult to keep providing the same services with less resources going in but I do think it will still be possible to provide quality services which have a real impact on the lives of young people with a low budget.”
Nevertheless, the Revd Briggs warned of a potential ‘tipping point’ if services continued to be reduced.
He said: “If you remove that early intervention, probably society picks up a bigger bill at the end.”
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