Burnley teenagers fight to keep youth scheme

Sarah Tanswell (15), Charlotte Burrows (15) and Laura Burrows (13) protest outside Burnley Town Hall against cuts and possible closure of the Burnley Youth Inclusion Programme. Photo Ben Parsons
Sarah Tanswell (15), Charlotte Burrows (15) and Laura Burrows (13) protest outside Burnley Town Hall against cuts and possible closure of the Burnley Youth Inclusion Programme. Photo Ben Parsons

TEENAGERS who attend an under-threat youth project took to the streets to protest against the proposed cuts.

Burnley Youth Inclusion Programme, which helps keep disadvantaged young people off the streets and is based at Parkside Methodist Church in Myrtle Street, is set to have its government funding withdrawn at the end of March.

But young people on the scheme are outraged that their “lifeline” could be slashed. They staged two demonstrations outside Burnley Town Hall and Parkside to voice their concerns.

The project, which is run by crime reduction charity Nacro, works with up to 50 youngsters aged between 13 and 17 and was set up in 2005 to reduce youth crime, particularly anti-social behaviour, in South-West Burnley.

Jake Lane (13) who attends YIP most days, said: “We are all going to miss it. YIP in Burnley is our family, it’s going to be horrible if it closes.

“We’ve grown so fond of the volunteers and we can tell them anything.

“We are all heartbroken we really don’t want it to close down.

“YIP is about keeping troubled teenagers off the streets, stopping them from starting fires and being drunk and disorderly.”

The project advises youngsters on how to cope with stress and organises activities such as kick boxing, street dancing and gives them help with schoolwork.

Mrs Florence Quinn (38), of Barclay Avenue, whose two youngest children, Sarah (14) and Robert (13), attend YIP, said she feared for their future if the scheme closes.

“The young people that go there now are staying out of trouble, they are not taking drugs and they are not drinking alcohol. The project has been a big part of their lives.

“If they are not going to YIP I worry that they will be taking drugs and doing graffiti because there is a lack of things for them to do in this area. The children are very upset, they love going there.”

As yet no funding to continue the programme has been found but the young people and their parents are hoping for Burnley businesses to get involved in a last-ditch bid to save the service.

Anyone interested in helping can contact Burnley YIP on 01282 455457.