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Rhianna Stuart, 15, from Stoke Newington, tells young hackney how YOF funding has helped improve lives of young people in Hackney:
'The Youth Opportunity Fund is a funding scheme specifically designed for young people to create their own projects and bid for funding. The whole point of the YOF is to: ”Give young people a voice in making decisions, improve ‘things to do and places to go’ for young people, help involve disadvantaged and hard to reach young people and invest in youth facilities, particularly in deprived areas”
For three years the youth opportunity fund has been making Hackney a much better place to be in, allowing the young people of Hackney access to activities they might not have experienced before.'
The YOF has young people on the judging panel that have to read and go through the applications and they decide which ones should receive the funding. I think having young people on the judging panel is a great idea because they are more likely to know what young people want and what they need in the local area, this is also another way of giving young people a voice and power.'
In October the Government’s spending review was announced and they believe that the best way to come out of the recession is to make deep cuts into very useful public services, including Children’s & Young People’s services. As a result of this in the new financial year YOF will no longer be available. Doing this will limit young people’s chances of gaining new experiences and many more.'
I found this statement on the Hackney Council website. This statement shows how severe these cuts really are, the hackney council seems shocked about the year ahead not only in YOF but in all spending: “The immediate future is going to be very tough for the Council as our services face unprecedented central government funding cuts... a reduction in funding to Hackney of more than £50million next year.” http://www.hackney.gov.uk/budget.htm
If it wasn’t for YOF I wouldn’t know anything about Eastside. The Youth Opportunity Fund funded a dance project run by Eastside in Smalley Close (Stoke Newington). All because of the funding I was able to watch ‘’Billy Elliot’ in the theatre I have gained so much experience because of these projects and they would not exist if it wasn’t for the YOF. It allowed me to make new friends, improve my confidence, dance skills, leadership abilities, performance skills and social skills.
I created a questionnaire with a list of organisations that are funded by YOF. I gave it out to 10 people and 100% of the participants knew at least one of the organisations. My questionnaire basically shows YOF funds very popular organisations for young people. The most known and popular organisations funded by YOF is “Homerton Adventure Playground” and “Street Level Youth Project” with 4 out of 10 people having worked with these organisations. This is probably because the people I asked were from East Hackney and “Homerton Adventure Playground” is local to them. It has been around for years now. Interestingly all four youth forums were known by the young people filling out the forms. Youth forums are a very positive thing because they allow young people to get involved with politics; it gives them a voice and gives young people the power to change the community.
I strongly disagree with this change and I believe the YOF should continue regardless of the recession. YOF helps to create aspiring young people, allowing them to have their voice heard sometimes for the first time. So many people have been educated in different arts and explored arts they had never thought about trying. It seems as if us young people have been thrown aside and abandoned because of this recession. If the authorities want young people to act and be responsible then treat them with respect and allow them to have their voice heard.