White Line Picket Protest Success

White Line Picket Protest 5th March 2015

Young People led Save Our Services Campaign 

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Over 100 Young people, community workers and local residents took to the streets yesterday, 5th March 2015, to highlight the impact that proposed 40% DSD ‘cuts’ to Upper Springfield Community & Youth Provision will have on local people

100 local young people, supported by residents and community workers and local politician held a white line picket protest yesterday (Thursday 5th March) at the junction of the Springfield and Whiterock roads.  The MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey attended to show his support, as did SDLP MLA Alex Attwood and local Councillor Gerry Carrol from People before Profit.

The Save Our Services campaign group was formed 3 weeks ago by local young people angry at the devastating impact proposed ‘cuts’ to community and youth services would have in the Upper Springfield and Whiterock area. An area which is already suffering from multiple levels of deprivation. Local community groups estimate the budget cut will result in:-

  1. The possible closure of five local community based organisations providing essential mental health and counselling support;[1]
  2. The loss of essential welfare advice services in Springfield/Whiterock;
  3. The loss of youth work and support services aimed at supporting the areas most marginalised young people;
  4. The loss of a community arts project;
  5. The loss of a local women’s support group;
  6. The loss of services will impact on hundreds of local people in a period of ‘austerity’ when they are most in need of support. This includes projects dealing with welfare, counselling and youth. In the past year they have dealt with
  • 250 young people disengaged from services;
  • 1176 people availed of advice services (people being sanctioned on the dole, people unfairly treated, people unaware of their rights or benefit entitlements;)
  • 504 people used the local counselling service
  1. The combined loss of these services will also result in the direct loss of 25 jobs (mostly coming from the local community) and the possible loss of a further 101 posts.

It is now 3 weeks since the Department for Social Development informed local groups of the size of the proposed ‘cuts’ to community and youth services. Since this time 100’s of local community workers have been informed that they are ‘at risk’ of redundancy, and yet the Minster for Social development has remained silent on the issue.

The Save Our Services campaign organised by young people and supported by residents, community workers and a range of political parties are demanding that the Minister for Social Development Mervyn Storey immediately rescinds the decision to ‘cut’ local services by 40% and ensures that funding for 2015 is restored to previously agreed levels.

Sean Conlon a local youth worker with the Upper Springfield Development Trust Youth Team who is helping organise the Save Our Services Campaign said, ‘The uncertainty being felt by local people who are already vulnerable and in need of vital community support is an absolute disgrace. Young People from the area are very angry, and while they are grateful of the support from local politicians they want to see this support transformed into action at the Executive table.’

For further information contact Niall Enright at 02890236677 or email niall@usdt.co.uk

[1] Springhill Community House, Holy Trinity Centre, Corpus Christi Services and the Centre for Health & Well-Being, Voices Women’s Group, USDT Arts Group.

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