North Norfolk youngsters say: ‘Save our youth service’

Teens and twenties from north Norfolk have added their voices to a last-ditch bid to save the county's youth service from the axe.

On Monday, Norfolk County Council is expected to agree to end the service as part of a package of cuts designed to save �155m in the coming years.

The Liberal Democrat opposition group has submitted an alternative budget that proposing selling off part of the county farms estate, building children's homes and using the money saved from not having to send children out of the county to fund the youth service.

Now, a group of young people from north Norfolk have added their voices to pleas to stop the axing of the service, which campaigners fear would lead to increased youth crime and unemployment.

Megan Purdy, 16, from North Walsham, said: 'I have been using the young carers scheme for nearly five years. It has given me a brilliant support network and I have made a lot of lifelong friends from it. I use it every fortnight and it gives me a chance to relax and talk to people about any problems.

'My life before young carers was very different. It has made a big change to my life and cutting the service will have a huge impact on other young people, making support much harder to access.'

Sammi Grey, 18, from Swanton Abbott, near North Walsham, said: 'I am a young carer for my disabled mum and sister and I have been using the service for 10 years. This is my last year that I am able to use the service and it has been a really important part of my life.

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'When you are a young carer those few hours are the only time you get to just relax and talk. They provide activities, support and even trips. It is the younger children I feel sorry for, they really need the break. I understand why they need to cut it but it is really important.'

Sami Coggins, 21, from Aylsham, said: 'I have worked for six years in the youth service. I was in the youth service myself when I was 13 and if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be here. We offer the kids the break they need, space to chill out, their lives are such hard work they really need the break.

'I help one girl who is a young carer and she has ME herself. Trying to juggle that on top of school and everything is so hard. We helped her come out the other side. I used to work at Connexions and that was cut and now this. It will have a massive effect on the children that need us. They need our support.'

Megan's sister Tara Purdy, 17, said: 'I have been part of the young carers scheme since I was 13. Mum is disabled so me and my sister look after her. It was just so nice to have a break from everything at home, somewhere to go and not worry about it. I feel so sorry for the people who will not get the chance to go there. I just think it is so unfair other children will not get this chance.'

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