Saving Childrens’ Services

Posted: April 14, 2011 by blackdaffodil in Cutswatch, Demonstrate, Rally & Occupy!
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We are now facing the myriad of cuts as they come through thick and fast, devastating everything we have fought for and built over the years. The community meeting was the first step in fighting the cuts to youth services.

Everyone in that room on Tuesday night said things far more powerfully and beautifully that I could do. Here are some of the highlights I jotted down (and apologies for sketchy notes and no pictures!). I felt immensely proud to be part of this community as I sat and listened:

“It’s so cynical how the council is running things down, they know young people can’t fight back and can’t vote. The council is saying they are protecting front-line services but they are not at all protected. We are not open tonight, we might not be open tomorrow night.”

“The kids at Max Roach are a family, they stick by each other. This will break down this family, the spirit and unity of the community. As a single parent my son doesn’t have a male role model, but black role models are exactly what the centre provides, they make sure our sons have something to aspire to. If people don’t stand up and fight together nothing will change, and things will just get worse.”

“These are services that are well needed. well respected, and free. Businesses are looking to make money providing these services now, this is all a cover up to make parents pay for a service that they are entitled to.”

“20 years ago we were in exactly this place. We fought, we sat down in the road to save Max Roach, and we won. My kids went there, my grandkids are there now, I hope my great grand kids will be able to go. This room should be full of people, we have to make that happen. And we need fighting talk, how much longer are we going to allow this to go on? I know what I’m going to do, when I look beside me at rallies and actions, who will I see beside me?”

“We need the kids to have somewhere to go, somewhere to communicate with each other, you understand? Our kids are being pushed to one side no one is thinking about the children but they are the future, they are what we live for.”

“If we don’t stop this I fear for our children, I fear for their future, I fear they will not have a future. A five year old was just shot, how many more will we lose? And these can’t be volunteer run, we need experienced staff and guaranteed funding. I won’t take someone’s job, we’re not just defending the buildings and the toys, but the staff.”

“Dick Shepard saved my life when I was a kid, I was 7 years old when I first went, I discovered my passion for acting and made friends who are still good friends today, 20 years later. Turning 5 is a huge deal in my house, because that’s the age when you’re allowed to go to Max Roach. It shows just how much this place means, and not just the place, but the people there who have been there for all of my children.”

“I was there when we closed down Brixton to save the playground before. We need a media and a campaign team and we need to do it again. Brixton is a diverse place, a very special place, we live well together, respect each other. These playgrounds are run with integrity, love and humanity. Young people have been demonized in this generation, we can’t allow this to go on.”

“I am so disgusted that people in invisible places are making decisions and don’t have the guts to come explain to the parents, it is we the staff who have to tell them. We need to force the council to get the guts to come to the community and tell the people exactly what they are cutting and why.”

“We’ve just started going to the adventure playgrounds and I am not good at speaking in public, but they have been so welcoming and wonderful there, I will do anything to save them, I will knock on doors, talk to people, anything.”

And a few words from the kids! They were wonderful

“The first time I stepped in it was just amazing, I told my friends it was just amazing!”

“I really really REALLY loved it”

The phrase that most stuck with me of such much inspiring discussion?

“They know the cost of things, but not the value.”

There is a petition going around and there will be a lobby of the council on May 11th. We’ll be posting links to all of the information on the closures, stories from parents and kids, the petition for download, and some of the hard facts and figures very shortly so follow us on facebook or sign up for the RSS feed!

  1. P Phillips says:

    We have used the Max Roach Centre as a community resource for many years. We live locally and it is unthinkable that in this time of youth alienation and unemployment Lambeth Council should be considering closing such a vital community resource which does not actually cost a massive amount of money to run. Especially as public money has recently been spent upgrading the Centre. Our children use this Centre and have been doing so for many years and if the Council close the place down or sell it to a private company who will charge us for its use, even though we paid for the Centre in the first place through our taxes, our children will be disillusioned indeed and feel that their needs are not important to the local Council. The staff at the Max Roach Project are superb and well liked and the facility is used and loved by children and adults. Do not close it down.