Oxford City Council has announced the allocation of £999,800 in its Youth Opportunity Fund.
The money has been split between twenty four charities which work with children and teenagers, after a cross-party group of councillors spent several weeks deciding how to allocate funds. It will be allocated over a period of two years.
Those receiving the funds include Rose Hill Junior Youth Club, Blackbird Leys Adventure Playground; and Yellow Submarine.
The groups provide important spaces for children and vulnerable teenagers to connect: Yellow Submarine, for example, runs school holiday programs, breakfast clubs, and residential holidays for children and young people with learning difficulties.
Although the council has won praise for allocating such a large sum of money to encourage these groups, it has been criticised for neglecting the seventy one other charities which applied.
Speaking to the Oxford Mail, Rita Atkinson, a trustee of the DAMASCUS youth project called the decision: “the death knell of this charity.” The charity aims to “empower young people through positive engagement that promotes a shared sense of belonging in the community; a commonality of purpose and real ability to effect change, so that they make a difference in their personal lives and in the communities in which they live.”
Atkinson went on to describe how DAMASCUS was a safe place for those who have problems at home in the Abingdon area, including victims of parental abuse or those who have parents addicted to drugs.
Atkinson asked the council to rethink its allocation, stating: “Please have a rethink of how the money has been allocated. The county council cannot support everybody – it shouldn’t – but it should be providing enough support so these organisations can go elsewhere for support.”
Council funding is often a gateway to other organisations providing financial assistance, and Atkinson believes that the failure of the council to provide funding to DAMASCUS means that other organisations will follow suit.
However, Mark Grey, a Cabinet member involved in making the decisions, justified the council’s decision to focus on a smaller number of groups, stating “the reason we decided not to split the money between all 95 groups was it was felt we… would make them untenable: they wouldn’t work”.
The council’s new budget has set aside £200,000 to revive youth support services. It is hoped that this will help to remedy any issues caused by lack of funding for some organisations and groups.