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A growing Westhoughton youth project has been boosted by a town council grant after it emerged that Bolton Council is cutting youth provision in the town.

Westhoughton town councillor David Wilkinson threw his support behind a £10,080 grant to the Bolton Lads and Girls Club’s new outreach project which will see qualified youth workers heading out onto the streets of Westhoughton to meet young people.

Councillor David Wilkinson at Westhoughton's community centre

Councillor David Wilkinson at Westhoughton’s community centre

Youth workers will chat with youngsters, offer them support on local activities, family, school or substance misuse problems and even help them with career development.

Cllr Wilkinson said: “If this helps save one young person from substance misuse or from ending up in prison then it will have been a success. One vulnerable young person is one too many.”

But it emerged on Monday night that the Westhoughton Town Council was being asked to support the project because Bolton Council intends to withdraw much of its youth provision funding for Westhoughton.

Bolton Lads and Girls Club's main offices

Bolton Lads and Girls Club’s main offices

Paul Griffiths, head of external funding and partnerships at the voluntary club, said: “There is an element of their provision withdrawing from the area and this replacing that. “The outreach project is about breaking down barriers and allowing young people to integrate together.”

The grant will pay for two youth workers to visit areas such as The Pungle, The Pewfist, Washacre and Wingates three times per week as well as fund a minibus to take youngsters to and from the Bolton Lads and Girls Club project which operates from Central Drive’s community centre.

Town councillors were asked to support the project before they had even been made aware of plans to cut Bolton Council’s provision.

Councillor David Chadwick, the town council’s Labour leader, who is also an executive member on Bolton Council, was accused of “putting the horse before the cart” by not telling colleagues about the cuts in advance. He insisted: “The problem is getting the information here in time. It is not a case of putting the cart before the horse.”

Bolton Council will now be able to cut its provision in Westhoughton.

But Cllr Wilkinson secured a commitment from Westhoughton Town Council to maintain its own Get Active Westhoughton fund of £40,000 for youth work. He said: “We have an important role to play in giving all of Westhoughton’s young people good opportunities in life.”

 

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