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The Closure of the Canada Villa Youth Centre
The Canada Villa Youth Centre in Mill Hill ‘may’ be closing down this month, (I say ‘may’ but that’s the politically shrewd way of saying it ‘will’ for Cameron. Analysis of Tory rhetoric aside, the youth centre at the heart of Barnet’s community is being stripped of funding and ‘may’ be closed.
Information over the closure of the youth centre over the past few months is limited to a timid shrug, so as not to appear confused - the shoulders move upwards the right height so as not to appear conclusively confused. Think of a cross between a father’s dancing shoulder shrug and the diameter of an American footballers shoulder pad.
From top to bottom the communication has been abhorrent with the ground staff being given 2 weeks notice for redundancy. Any words or letters directing the youth and staff about the closing of Canada Villa have been restricted to ‘maybes, might’s and Meh’s. The last of which is the Conservative MP cutter’s colloquial response to the youth service being dismantled.
Satire induced attacks upon the Tory party aside, let me state facts. There is over 40,000 pounds worth of equipment in Canada Villa which will be estimated to be used twice a week, for an hour. If that wasn’t wasteful enough, 70,000 pounds was spent refurbishing the front of the building – perhaps to perk it up for some private investment I’m guessing. Considering it’s going to close – sorry, considering it ‘may’ close, that seems as wasteful as chain-sawing a healthy bonsai tree.
Most of the workers in the music area of Canada Villa are being made redundant and being replaced by under skilled youth workers. Some of the staff being made redundant are incredibly talented musicians and poets and there is a hope they’ll be hired on freelance. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of these people and I hope that they will be valued by the council because the youth at Canada Villa certainly value them immensely.
There have been suggestions that the music room at the Canada Villa will be rented out however this concept is flawed. Local people using the youth centre are from deprived areas and they simply cannot afford to use the facilities for a fee. HOLD ON, why don’t these young people use their EMA? Oh wait, that’s being scrapped too. The idea’s being thrown up are so fundamentally flawed and utterly ill-advised, it’s as if this is a concentrated effort to target the youth.
Each Monday at Canada Villa, there is an average of 40-45 young people in total attending. Kids who come in are often on the edge of crime and love attending Canada Villa to express themselves. The sad passing of Marvin Henry in Mill Hill last year still affects the community and many of his friends attend the music room at Canada Villa.
I spoke to MC Manual Josias who attends Canada Villa regularly to produce and make music. He said: “we do music in this Rhythmik studio and in this youth centre and in my view life imitates art, we take our own life on the streets and interpret it into art.” He added: “It’s a pity, it’s not fair on us as a community, we’re trying to come together and unite with each other, black, white, whatever race. It’s a real shame. The government need to step up.”
The Coalition government do really need to step up. 12 of the 24 MP’s in the coalition cabinet attended Eton and Oxbridge. They do not comprehend the ramifications of such cuts to the youth service and are simply out of touch with their foolish and reckless actions. Before it’s too late, if any councillor is reading this, please take into account what an effect cutting youth centres will have.
NB: My poetry group Words Apart have not received any notice and with no money or funding it will be a struggle to survive from April but if we don’t get funding we will be moving to the Noble Sage in East Finchley.