The Stowe Youth Club on Harrow Road have been forced to close almost all of its services for young people as a result of Council spending cuts.
The news of service cuts comes after Westminster council announced that they would stop funding all youth services in September 2016, bringing an end to the £95, 000 a year that these services once received.
This has led to the club laying off some of its most experienced staff members to reduce costs.
Since opening in 1993, the Stowe Club has been a safe haven for 11-19 year olds from Warwick, Mozart and Amberley Estates looking to escape difficult home lives and avoid street crime.
Caine Spencer, 20, a former attendee and current volunteer at Stowe Club says that he and the other workers will keep fighting to save the Stowe Club.
He said: “Growing up in Mozart Estate wasn’t easy. Most of the kids came from areas that were battling in gang wars, but when we came to the Stowe Club we were a family. Although we’ve lost a lot of our team because of the cuts, myself and the remaining members will try our hardest to keep this vital service going.”
The music studio remains the most popular facility at the club but there are no staff members with the expertise to teach the youth how to use it. As recently as three years ago the Stowe Youth Club offered wide range of activities including T-Shirt design, cooking classes and magazine writing. The only youth service currently running in the centre is the free access to the sports hall from 6pm – 9pm on Thursdays.
Amelia Dimoldenberg, 23, the star of popular YouTube show, ‘Chicken Shop Date’ credits her online success to writing a comedic column in the youth magazine ‘The Cut’ at the Stowe Club. Miss Dimoldenberg has launched a petition to have funding returned to the club. She said: “I found it really hard to understand why people think that this is a necessary cut as it is so important for young people to have a good start in life.”
Despite the council promising to fund a replacement service one night a week for 11-19 year olds from April 1st, she insists more still needs to be done.
She added: “This will be nothing near to what used to be provided and is a massive blow to the community and life choices of the young people in the area.”
Paddington Development Trust, were responsible for the re-opening of the Stowe Centre in 2005, transforming it from a Youth Club into a hub for local social enterprises, which included the addition of The Cut Magazine, that Amelia Dimoldenberg and many other youths in the area used to write in.
However, even they have struggled to with attempts to raise extra money to cover council cuts.
Paddington Trust CEO, Neil Johnson has said this about the funding cuts: “Since 2010 we have been under increasing funding pressure and over the last two years we’ve lost 100% of youth club funding as have youth centres all over London and the rest of the country.
The extent of cuts to North Westminster community services, including draconian cuts to Children Centres can only have a negative effect on people who are already struggling.”
The Paddington Development Trust are currently demanding that the Westminster Council reverses their decision to cut youth services and are supporting Amelia Dimoldenberg’s petition to keep Stowe Youth Club open.
This is a link to the petition http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/SavetheStowe/