Support for youth services sought after SNYA Radio wins national accolade

A youth worker involved in an award-winning teen-run radio station has called on young people to pledge their support for youth services in Norfolk.

Stephen Thomas, active citizenship co-ordinator at Norfolk County Council and Long Stratton-based SNYA Radio co-ordinator, expects to be made redundant next year as the council plans cutbacks to plug a �155m funding shortfall over the next three years.

Proposals being considered include the scrapping of the county council's youth services, which helps 17,000 to 20,000 people a year – a move which could save �4.8m by 2013.

A consultation called Norfolk's Big Conversation is under way where people can register their views on all the authority's cost-cutting suggestions, which Mr Thomas is urging people to take part in. His rallying cry comes after SNYA Radio scooped its first national award at the Children and Young Awards last Thursday at a glittering London ceremony attended by education secretary Michael Gove.

SNYA Radio, which started broadcasting live on the internet last November, is run by 64 young people. Shows are usually aired from a former bar area at Long Stratton Leisure Centre but, thanks to the purchase of two mobile broadcasting units, presenters have been able to hit the road working with youth clubs, young carers, young people in care and schools across Norfolk. It has helped raise more than �10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust and other charities.


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The station, spearheaded by 14-year-old station manager Josh Worley, also works in partnership with Norfolk County Council, South Norfolk Council, Norfolk Police, South Norfolk Alliance, City College and the Norwich Theatre Royal.

Winning in the Arts and Cultural category against competition from Birmingham City Council and Lancaster University, SNYA Radio was praised for having done the most to inspire children and young people in cultural activities, especially among disadvantaged groups, and developing innovative collaborations between children's services and the cultural sector.

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But Mr Thomas said: 'It's a bitter sweet experience for me personally as the award marks not only the accumulation of two years hard and enjoyable work on this project, engaging with some fantastic young people, but also the start of the goodbye process to the many young people I work with across Norfolk, like other Norfolk County Council youth workers, I am set to be made redundant in February.'

Although he said SNYA Radio would continue without youth services, its axing would pose questions as to who would take over its activities including providing support for children in care and young carers, assisting with youth clubs and helping schools run sex education projects.

'People need to realise the implications and make their voices heard while we are in a position of strength before it's too late,' he added.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's service at the county council, congratulated SNYA Radio on its achievements.

'The young people involved in this project are a credit to their county and work incredibly hard to provide a service for other young people their age,' she said,

SNYA Radio will be broadcasting a live studio debate on the future of youth services in January. Those wishing to express their opinions can email stevek.thomas@snyouthaction.org.uk

For more information on Norfolk's Big Conversation, visit www.dialogue-app.com/norfolkbigconversation

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