Fears young people could suffer without support as pandemic continues

East Moors Youth Centre is currently shut due to coronavirus Credit: itv

Youth workers fear young people from deprived backgrounds risk being cut off from support as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Young people aged 11-25 rely on the support of youth club services for support, opportunities and education.

At the moment, those services are closed and many fear young people are slipping off the radar.

Youth worker, Jonathan Gunter told ITV News, "Some of these services and youth clubs provide a vital life line, to young people in terms of providing opportunities, a bit of hope, education and so if these youth connections are severed then young people aren't going to know where to go and there could be heightened, poor wellbeing and mental wellbeing as a result."

Shakil Hussain, Credit: ITV

Friends, Shakil Hussain and Junior Mendes Pereira say the opportunities and support they have had from youth workers at East Moors has helped them stay out of trouble and given them a focus for their music.

Shakil Hussain, whose stage name is Stenzo, said "If it was wasn't for this place, I don't know where I would record songs, I don't know where I would be. Music saved me, if it wasn't for music, I'm not going to lie, I would probably be dealing drugs or doing something bad I shouldn't be doing".

Junior Mendes Pereira raps with Shakil and says the opportunities he has had from the youth centre have allowed him to dream big.

He said, "You could end up drug areas doing bad things, or maybe in jail or maybe dead.

"My dream is, I want to be someone big, be someone to help other people be big, because right now, I've got people helping me to be something."

Junior and Shakil hope lockdown won't prevent them from making music Credit: ITV

Youth workers have started online groups for chats, quizzes and games, but fear they cannot connect properly with young people who may need help, as the pandemic continues.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the importance of youth services and are absolutely committed to working with our partners to ensure they are delivered.

“Alongside our Youth Work Strategy, we’ve backed this commitment by more than doubling our funding for these services to more than £10m this year.

“Youth services fulfil a vital role for young people and communities, including as part of the coronavirus response, by staying in touch and supporting some of the most vulnerable and marginalised young people.”

  • Watch the full report by Alexandra Hartley: