Bus ‘keeping kids off streets’ facing funding axe
Waltham Forest E-Guardian – 12:05pm Thursday 26th March 2015
A bus which visits deprived estates to help children learn, play and relax could be taken off the road due to council cuts.
The My Youth Bus is kitted out with game stations, cooking facilities and a sound system and used by dozens of young people every night.
The My Youth Bus project, run by charity Worth Unlimited, has been operating in Walthamstow, Leytonstone and Chingford since December 2007.
Funding of £33,000 is provided through the council’s Youth Activities Fund.
However, the cash is due to be cut from September this year.
Amber Bowden, 11, and Alex Brown, 14, from Buxton School in Leytonstone, raised the issue with Mayor of Waltham Forest Terry Wheeler.
They use the bus on the Cathall Estate in Leytonstone, an area well known for crime and deprivation.
This bus means a lot to both of us.
It is like a family on here. It is amazing and it means the world to us to be able to come here every week.
They are taking away money because they don’t actually understand what it is like for kids growing up – they think it is just a bus for a small group of kids and they are wrong.
There is always someone you can talk to on this bus – adults we know and trust.
Amber Bowden added:
We wouldn’t be allowed out if the bus wasn’t here.
The bus is as important to our parents as it is us because it gets us out.
The youth workers who come every week are amazing. There is nothing else like this around here.
Thomas Fether, 15, and Jahmal Burgess, 13, have been using the bus since it started operating.
This is something we really enjoy.
It is the only thing for us to do, we need that money.
Makiya Jacobs, 13, said:
It is fun so we keep coming.
When we come here we can have our own space – we always have fun.
It keeps kids off the streets. If I wasn’t here I would just stay indoors on my own.
Carl Clarke has been a youth worker on the bus for 20 months said:
The most important thing for us is that they have somewhere to go that isn’t the street, where they can get an education outside of the classroom,
We don’t want children on the streets or spending all their time at home on the internet.
It is about getting these kids to get the best out of themselves and some just don’t do that in traditional settings.
The bus is another opportunity for them to learn and excel.
Worth Unlimited said it would like to hear from any businesses interested in sponsoring the bus.
The council has been approached for comment.