Fight to save Isle of Dogs youth club opens with teenagers' petition
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Teenagers campaigning to save St Andrew’s youth club on the Isle of Dogs have now started an online petition and plan to send a deputation to the town hall.
They’re at loggerheads with Tower Hamlets Council which has given notice to youth workers and plans to “outsource” the club which the youngsters fear means they lose it.
The petition has 120 signatures so far, organiser Camila Consolmagno revealed this week.
The council denies plans to close the club in Millwall and says it recognises “the importance of keeping youth centres open, in particular St Andrew’s Wharf" as a community resource.
“I can confirm that St Andrew’s is not being closed," a town hall spokesman insisted. "The importance of youth clubs was evident in our survey in 2019.
"The council felt the need to change the approach with a new team over the summer working with young people on the streets coordinated with St Andrew's Wharf. There has been no communication to residents or staff that St Andrew’s will be closing.”
But that cut no ice with the campaigners.
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Camila hit back saying: “It’s beyond me that they don’t want to say the club is closing, despite plans to turn it into a football club, cut the hours of youth service by half and completely replace full-time youth workers with part-time volunteers!
“It is effectively closing if the club as we know it ceases to exist.”
The five staff running the club in Masthouse Terrace, off Westferry Road, have been given redundancy notices along with 50 other council youth workers.
Camila has written to the council’s youth services director pleading: “St Andrew's helped my brother deal with the trauma of having been the victim of a knife threat. He is one example in hundreds.”
Her campaign petition states: "The Children's Services director is planning to outsource St Andrew's to Sporting Foundation that will turn it into a football club. We cannot let another youth club close!"
A #SaveStAndrews social media campaign has also been started, with 18-year-old Ibrahim Kargbo rallying support.
He’s soon off to university thanks to a helping hand from St Andrew’s and plans to tell councillors how a youth worker invited him into the club which gave him “a feeling of belonging”. It turned his life around.