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Aug
08

Britain’s young suffer as austerity continues to take its toll | Letters

Guardian readers respond to cuts to mental health and youth services, maternity ward closures, and benefits changes

“Childhood” in “Crisis”, edited by Phil Scraton (Letters, 7 August) and published in 1996, has long been considered the definitive reference book on child poverty and the demonisation of young people by academics and youth and community practitioners alike. However, when first released it could not have been predicted that those warnings about austerity measures and social exclusion would prove prescient in terms of young people’s current status in the UK, including their mental health issues and harm-related behaviours (Bed found for suicidal girl after judge’s fury, 5 August).

As a former youth service manager, school governor and manager of a community-based social inclusion project, I have directly observed the impact of those draconian cuts over the past few years, and the decimation of most youth services and young people’s drop-in support provision can be directly linked to the provision of funding for Cameron’s flagship National Citizen Service, leaving thousands of vulnerable young people without year-round support. This government’s drive to privatise public services has enabled profit-driven providers to get rich at the expense of young people in deprived communities. Who could have predicted that, by 2016, so many young people would be dependent on food banks and without hope for their own futures?

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