YOUNG people from across Rubery are celebrating after winning a three-year battle to save the town’s youth centre.
The new improved building will be moving into the old caretaker’s house at Beaconside School, which will be done up to make it fit for purpose including a new conservatory, while the old site will be used to build 16 affordable homes.
The youth centre came under threat amidst proposals by the Worcestershire County Council, which runs the service, when it needed to save an estimated £60million to £70million by cutting services.
Young campaigners fought tooth and nail for the centre with a number of high-profile demonstrations and activities.
Among them were 50 and 60 young people taking equipment, including a table football game, a pool table and craft items, out onto New Road to illustrate what it would be like if the village’s youths were ‘thrown out onto the street’ with nowhere else to go.
They also took part in a sit-in protest at the centre, a protest march through Rubery and launched a petition which amassed more than 1,000 signatures.
During their fight to save their centre the young campaigners even attracted TV attention from Channel 4 and the issue was also, thanks to the young people’s tenacity and dedication to the cause, taken to the House of Commons.
Yasmin Millward and Jade Shields, who led the drive to save the provision, was even nominated for a prestigious national award for the campaign.
Speaking to The Standard this week, she expressed her delight that the battle had been won.
“I think it’s brilliant the move is going ahead and our fight made sure there wasn’t a gap in youth services while transitioning them from council-run to private.
“It proves young people will be listened to and that they do have a voice, I myself am proud of all the young people involved in campaigning for the centre.” she said.
Coun Peter McDonald, who slammed the controversial proposal to cut youth provisions from the very beginning, said: “The campaign by the young people of Rubery to maintain a youth centre in the town has been won.
“It has been a terrible three years for the young people of Rubery not knowing what was going to happen but now after the summer holidays they should be able to return to a renovated and refurbished building.
“They must be congratulated on the way they fought to keep a youth centre and never gave up.”
The original centre, which opened on New Road in 1985, provided the village’s young people with a drop-in centre, workshops on issues such as sexual health and homelessness.
Between 2011 and 2012 it hosted 80 sessions with an average attendance of 30 people.