Trust urged to explain decision to axe ‘vital support network’ for young people
Calls are being made for Shetland Charitable Trust to explain why it has axed funding to Shetland Youth Information Services (SYIS).
Trust chairman Bobby Hunter said on Thursday that the cut was down to concern over how the SYIS’s Market Cross premises were being run and not about saving money.
The daily drop-in service for young people is now closed “until further notice”.
On Thursday trustees of the charitable trust voted in private to pull the plug on £188,840 of funding for 2013/14, just three days before the new financial year starts.
It is understood a review of the service had suggested providing funding for six months until a new way forward was found. But trust management instead recommended that funding should be removed altogether.
One of Shetland’s youth MSPs, Emily Shaw, said it was a “cause for concern and not what I would like to see”. She will be writing to the trust to ask why the decision was taken.
Talks about how SYIS could fit into a new council strategy for youth services have been taking place since August. SIC children’s services director Helen Budge met staff for fresh discussions on Friday afternoon.
Ms Shaw told The Shetland Times: “I think what is important now is that I ensure that I work with the local youth service team and Young Scot to ensure youth information continues to be provided at a local level through a variety of platforms.
“I would urge the young people who previously used SYIS to make the most of these alternative platforms.
“Once lessons have been learnt about why this organisation has had its funding removed, hopefully the Shetland Charitable Trust can ring-fence the investment for future use for youth provision in Shetland.”
On Thursday SYIS’s full-time manager Barry Callieu said he and his 12 part-time staff were “devastated” on behalf of those who used the service regularly.
Neil Pearson, who worked with SYIS for a number of years, said his thoughts went out to staff left in a “very difficult and unenviable position” and to users of the service, who have been “left without a vital support network”.
SYIS’s website says it aims to offer information and support to young people in a “non-threatening environment” to allow them to “take constructive steps to affect positive change in their lives”.