A group of local activists are campaigning for a youth club to be created in south Bermondsey. The Blue Youth Club was closed a few years ago, with many residents saying it left young people in the area with little to do.
Gareth Bell, Kirsty Grove and Andrew Tipler met with the leaders of youth services in neighbouring areas, such as the Salmon Youth Centre and the BEDE Centre, who offered help, advice and volunteers. Their ambition is to get a new youth centre built in the Blue, ideally in a larger space and better facilities than the Blue Youth Club had when it was closed.
The activists, who will also be standing in South Bermondsey for the Liberal Democrats in the local elections in May, hope it will provide guidance and mentorship to younger people in the area and contribute towards lowering anti-social behaviour.
Gareth Bell said ‘The Blue Youth Club gave younger people in the area somewhere to go, things to do, and a chance to get good guidance and mentorship. There’s been no replacement since it was closed and we’re really feeling its loss now.’
Kirsty Grove said ‘We’ve all seen the rise in knife crime and moped-crime in Bermondsey over the last few years, and gangs have become better at attracting younger people who are bored and with little to do. Youth services should be provided even if these problems didn’t exist, but in the long-term they can pay for themselves in terms of reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.’
Andrew Tipler argued ‘We’ve really missed having the Blue Youth Club and we think there’s a powerful case for establishing a new youth centre with decent services in the area. Receiving proper mentoring and having good role models can have a transformational effect on young lives, setting them up well for the future.’
Speaking about the campaign, Cllr Anood Al-Samerai, leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition on Southwark Council said, ‘Youth services has sadly been one of main areas that have been heavily and repeatedly cut over recent years. It’s short-termism at its worst. We’ve called for the £750,000 cuts to youth services introduced by the Labour-run Council to be reversed, paid for by ending the five-figure ‘Golden Goodbyes’ to Cabinet Members, stop producing the council’s in-house magazine, and to slim down the council’s big team of spin-doctors.
It’s a false economy to leave younger people with little to do except hang around street corners and this campaign to build a new youth centre in South Bermondsey has our full support.’
The petition to establish a new youth centre has already received over 500 signatures and people can add to it at tinyurl.com/BermondseyYouth.