Town of Cambridge axes Youth Service

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Town of Cambridge Youth Network Service clients Jesse Leah, Emily Hilston and Kira Panneck. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au   d492844a
492844a Town of Cambridge Youth Network Service clients Jesse Leah, Emily Hilston and Kira Panneck. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d492844a

TOWN of Cambridge’s Youth Service, at 86 Cambridge Street, will soon cease to exist and its young clients are “angry” and “sad”.

“In February, the decision was made for the Town to cease providing youth services using the current model on June 30, and to seek tenders for the delivery of the youth service,” Mayor Keri Shannon said.

“The use of the building at 86 Cambridge St is also open for reconsideration.”

Cambridge’s Youth Service was established in 2000 and offers a walk-in, walk-out service.

People aged 12 to 25 visit the centre to meet other youth, find information and seek support if they need it.

Its youth workers are also trained and motivated to assist those with mental health, relationship and isolation issues.

Users of the service Jesse Leah (17), Emily Hilston (19), Rachael Stott (19) and Kira Panneck (18) said they were told in April they may need to start looking for another service to reach out to.

“It makes me angry and sad, a mix of emotions, because I don’t see the point of them closing it down,” Emily said.

Kiara said the Town needed to be clearer about its plans.

“They [the Town] keep being vague, and we have no clear idea about what they’re doing – they hadn’t set anything set in stone until two weeks ago,” she said.

Ms Shannon said the Town had looked at the patronage of the service for two years and found it was underused.

“The Town was concerned the youth service is not well used and given the cost to the Town of $280,000 a year, on top of the use of the stand-alone building, it wasn’t optimal,” she said.

Jesse said if it wasn’t for the service, he would be sleeping on the streets.

“It makes me a bit disappointed in the Town’s decision – I’ve got the place I’m living in now because this service had the resources to do that for me,” he said.

“The workers are part of what makes it [the service] so good, they don’t have a script, they’re genuine and trained in psychology.”

Ms Shannon said the Town was looking at creating a more “contemporary model of service delivery”.

Rachael has since launched an online petition “Save the No.86 Youth Centre” which currently has 116 signatures.

She plans to present it to the Town of Cambridge, along with more than 100 signatures on paper, at its next meeting in May.