Guest post by Amanda Hannen (VONNE)
Tees Valley has some of the most deprived areas in the country. The Junction is providing more and more support to children and young people in Tees Valley as they face increasing economic and social pressures and the children they work with are coming forward with issues at a much younger age.
On one contract The Junction has lost 50% of its funding from the Local Authority and yet is working hard, creatively and successfully to meet the increased demand for their services, seeing up to 300 children and young people a month.
The Junction strives to make a positive difference to the lives of disadvantaged children, young people and families in the Tees Valley. The organisation prides itself in being somewhere that children, young people and their families feel able to approach for support when they need it.
The Junction believes the key to success is building positive relationships over time, which requires sustainable funding and continuity of provision. Talking about the value of their work, Chief Executive Lawrence McAnnelly states:
“One young women is 17 and we’ve worked with her over a period of 8 years, that’s half her life. When you hear this it starts to sink home that it’s more than just a contract for 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, the commitment has been for half that girl’s life, we’ve been one of the constants in what has been a complex and challenging life.
The Junction are responding to the funding cuts by working hard to demonstrate the difference they make, by being competitive and working in partnership with other organisations locally to provide the best service possible. However, funding is required to continue to deliver such a vital service.
Part of competition is essentially to drive up quality and drive down price and I see that, I recognise it’s a major part of our society but we’ve got to get the balance right. I think for young people there is a massive danger that we just leave them behind, particularly in the North East. I do worry that we’re going to get lots of children and young people that just get lost and their futures will be severely prohibited.
We’ve seen an increase in demand for services but I’m guarded because we’re now recording this much, much better than we’ve ever done before. For instance, our figures for last year talk about 145 young people per month, now it’s more like 250-290 per month. There are two things, we’re collecting the data better and there’s an increase in demand for services.
I think the pressures on young people are increasing– it feels like we’re going back 20 years in terms of what’s potentially happening around unemployment, complex issues they’re facing, of lack of services etc. I think it’s bubbling, I think some of the lack of services will hit home at some point in time. I do worry about the generation now planning for their future, I worry that young people may just almost give up or settle for less.
Recently we went down to London to collect an award for a film some of the young carers had made. Afterwards we walked down Pall Mall and Buckingham Palace and I realised actually, there are more affluent places than Grangetown and Southbank in Redcar. There’s no Poundland down the Pall Mall’. It’s really sad that a man of my age needs to do that to think – it hits home that things aren’t equal by any stretch of the imagination and it feels very, very much like there’s a high degree of inequality and that we’re used to dealing with people at the bottom end or towards the bottom end of that.”
Karl a young carer and volunteer at The Junction – the photo above is as he receives a Young Leader Award at the North East VCS Awards Ceremony 2011
This post forms part of a series of posts looking at how voluntary sector organisations working with children and young people in the North East are coping with austerity measures and budget cuts.