Shropshire Star comment: Today's youngsters have so much, yet so little
While it may seem that today’s young generation have so much, arguably in some ways they have so little – and might be about to lose even more in Shropshire.
They have social media, smartphones, and all the rest of it, which while wonderful in their own way, are also mechanisms for deprivation of true social contact and interaction.
Youth clubs remain an opportunity for meeting their peers, but bricks and mortar costs money and employing people costs money, so the pressure is on.
Shropshire Council wants to pull the funding plug on its youth clubs from April next year, and pay instead for six outreach workers to cover the whole of its patch. A cut in service? No, no, no, it says, as it will spend the same amount of money, but will deliver in a different way.
It actually sounds like a revolution in which a likely consequence will be that a significant number of youth clubs will close, because town councils, even if they are inclined to take them on both financially and organisationally, will generally have no track record in this field.
A youth service underpinned by the stability offered by Shropshire Council, with its resources and know-how, will be broken up and thrown in the air in the hope that somebody will be out there to catch the pieces.
If you consider that youth clubs are an avenue to freedom for young people, in that they give them a way to free themselves from the clutches of all those things of modern life which keep them indoors and captivated by screens of one sort or another, then anything which threatens youth clubs is taking away the freedom to be a young person in the ways which were taken for granted by previous generations.
In some areas of the country blighted by knife crimes and other crimes there have been claims that there is a link between that and the reduction or complete loss of local youth services.
There is talk these days about the need to “invest in young people.” Putting youth clubs under pressure looks very much like a de-investment in young people.