Portsmouth’s children are being ‘betrayed’ as council axes youth service

Peter Marcus of Portsmouth Youth Voice was awarded last year's Youth Civic Award by Portsmouth City Council, and is furious that funding as been cut to the organisation
Peter Marcus of Portsmouth Youth Voice was awarded last year's Youth Civic Award by Portsmouth City Council, and is furious that funding as been cut to the organisation
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TIGHT-FISTED councillors have been accused of betraying Portsmouth’s young people after they axed a youth support group.

Portsmouth Youth Voice has been forced to shut up shop after the city council cut its final trickle of financial support for the service.

The group has been operating in the city for almost a decade and provided hundreds of children and young people with a voice.

Organisers regularly ran consultations with young people about decisions that would affect them, passing on these views to local politicians and council officers.

Peter Marcus is the group’s former secretary and is now its only adult volunteer. He was shocked by the move.

‘This is a betrayal for the young people in Portsmouth,’ he told The News. ‘They have had their voice taken away.

‘We have done a lot over the past eight years for young people in the city despite dwindling council budgets and support.’

Mr Marcus said he had been informed of the plan to slash the group’s £500 budget at a meeting with the council in November.

However, he claimed he was told the authority would ‘do everything it could’ to help the cause continue.

‘This help never came. It just didn’t happen,’ he added.

The move has since been criticised by Liberal Democrat leader, councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

He claimed the council still had £450,000 squirrelled away in a voluntary sector fund which could have been used to keep the group alive.

‘Young people’s voices get lost all the time,’ Cllr Vernon-Jackson said.

‘So I’m disappointed the council has cut this service. It’s a great shame.’

Caroline Corcoran, Portsmouth City Council’s head of sufficiency, participation and resources, said: ‘Portsmouth Youth Voice has been a fantastic voice for young people in the city but over the years the membership has dwindled. Over the last six months we have provided support to try and increase the numbers but there are now only eight members, which does not give a representative view of the city’s young people.

‘We are changing the way we engage with young people and will be launching our new approach in May. We aim to engage with 1,000 young people by December to seek their views more regularly and ensure young people are represented on decision making bodies.

‘We have offered advice to the enthusiastic and committed young people involved in Portsmouth Youth Voice about how they can still get involved and have their say on issues in Portsmouth.’

Mr Marcus is now appealing for help from city businesses for funding.

He added the group still had a lot of work it was keen to continue.

To help, email portsmouth@youthcouncil.org.uk.