Council concerns over Baldock youth club

CONCERNS over the running of a youth club have been expressed by North Herts District Council (NHDC).

A review of facilities for teenagers in North Herts, carried out by the council and published in the agenda for its overview and scrutiny committee meeting last month, raises concern over a youth club run at Baldock Community Centre.

The facility, which is run by Herts County Council’s (HCC) Youth Connexions, operates on Monday and Thursday evenings and is open to people aged 12 to 19, or up to 25 if a young person has learning difficulties or disabilities.

The NHDC report says a visit to the facility by a working group had resulted in “concern over the physical condition and atmosphere at the youth club”.

It says the building is “in need of renovations, refurbishment and up-to-date equipment”.

The working group was also “given the impression that the skills of the youth workers were not in line with current youth provision guidance”, and that the activities provided for young people were outdated.

When The Comet contacted HCC, a spokesman said: “Since the scrutiny visit, equipment has been updated, including IT.

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“The facility is currently in the process of being redecorated.”

He continued: “Youth Connexions has a comprehensive training programme in place for staff and quality assurance procedures in place to monitor staff delivery.

“The staff team, which includes new members, is enthusiastic and keen to put programmes of activities together which will engage young people.”

In NHDC’s report it states that Youth Connexions has noted an increase in the number of NEETS - not in education, employment or training - within the 16 to 18 age range.

“A large number are experiencing significant issues and barriers, a lack of employment opportunities and appropriate level of training opportunities,” it says.

The HCC spokesman explained that this is due, in part, to the current economic climate.

“There are many factors which have an impact on a young person becoming NEET, such as the availability of local employment and training opportunities, and issues associated with a young person’s personal circumstances,” he continued.

“Some young people have additional barriers they are facing which have an impact on their ability to continue in education, or enter employment and training.

“Youth Connexions is working to address all of these issues and offers one-to-one support to young people in this situation.”