I am writing to you today about the cuts to the youth services and youth workers in Oxfordshire and the UK.
I am a young person from Banbury, Oxfordshire, and I want to tell you about my past and how it affected me and my social life, and how the youth service helped me to get through it all and to get back on my own feet.
When I was eleven years of age, I was peer pressured into smoking a cigarette by older students at school. Because they were older than me, I felt intimidated by them standing over me and telling me what to do. They wouldn’t give up trying to make me try the cigarette, I got more and more scared, so in the end I tried it so they wouldn’t hurt me. After a year of smoking cigarettes, I got addicted to them. When I was twelve, I was offered cannabis. I took it to try and then got addicted after a short period of time. I then started going out smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol on a daily basis. I soon started to consume Class A and Class B drugs, and things seemed to fall apart more and more every day. I was getting into trouble with the police from being out on the streets doing things that I shouldn’t have been. I was also drifting away from my family as the drugs that I was taking were making me angry and giving me mood swings.
In 2007, I was introduced to Mike Beal and Brendon Miller, who are two youth workers, at Banbury Youth Centre. I told them what I was going through and they started to work with me straight away. I was troubled at school, because I taking the drugs, it affected the way I behaved at school as well. I also suffer from ADHD, (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) OCD, (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) Tourette syndrome and Dyslexia. The teachers at school wouldn’t put out any of their time to help me with my work, so Mike and Brendon helped me with the work that I was doing for school.
In 2009, I was almost completely clean and sober of drugs and alcohol and I was starting to focus on my music. I started playing music at the age of 6. I started off playing drums. When I started taking drugs, my interest in playing music has stopped completely. Mike is also a Musician and got me up and working with music again. Whilst he was helping to get off of the streets, he was teaching me how to play the guitar.
I am now seventeen, completely free of drugs and only consume alcoholic beverages on special occasions, with my family. I am now in further education and now study BTEC A Level and Level 1, 2 and 3 in youth work, and training to be a drugs and alcohol worker. And I also now play Drums, Guitar, Bass guitar, Piano, Ukulele and I also sing.
The point that I am trying to get across to you is that the youth service has changed my life completely. If it wasn’t for Mike, Brendon and the youth service, I could be either in rehab, prison or even dead. The youth service saved my life.
Funds have been cut from schools, jobs and businesses, why has the youth service been cut completely; couldn’t just funds be cut from the service?
The youth service and what it does is amazing, and to see it go is very upsetting, I have lost friends from the loss of the youth service and its workers. The service means so much to me and helped me so much, I don’t want other young people to be making the same mistakes as I did, and with the help of the youth service, young people have help with not making mistakes. But now that the youth service has gone, more people will be out doing the same things that I used be doing, and that is not fair on them, their families, or friends. Mike Beal was such an inspiration to me, which is why I chose to be a youth worker and am also training to be a drugs and alcohol worker.
I have had a meeting with Oxfordshire’s MP, Tony Baldry, with other young people who have had help from the youth service, we asked him questions and we did not like how he was responding to us. So on behalf of the young people who have been helped and want the service and workers back, I hope you can find the time to contact someone to arrange a meeting with me to have a discussion about the situation or you could come down to the new HUB centre in Banbury, or I could even travel to London to your lovely home, as it would be an honour to meet you.
Thank-you for taking time to read this hope you take it into mind.
Jordan Mark Rolfe