WITNEY Town Council is set to take a ‘brave’ step and fund new workers to deliver youth services.

The move is one of several aimed at returning sustainable youth services to the town, all of which passed unanimously at last Wednesday’s town council meeting.

Meanwhile, young people will be invited to join a steering group of key stakeholders to help youth work in Witney grow.

The measures arose from two forums attended by 16 county organisations earlier this year.

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A forum was the brainchild of county councillor for Witney South and Central, Laura Price, who praised the council for supporting the plans.

She said: “It was great to see everyone of all political persuasions so supportive. This is a really brave step for the council to say they want to get involved in this.

“We hear from people all the time about the need for this, so it’s really admirable the council is seeking creative solutions. It shows they’ve listened to residents and want to step up.”

The council and its partners already have a small pot to fund the youth workers, but will also have to submit bids to Oxfordshire County Council and the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner for more cash.

The county has a £1m youth fund set aside in February’s budget, which will be inviting bids this summer.

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Because the town council will be applying for extra funds, it cannot yet guarantee how much funding it will be able to offer for youth services.

In a report ahead of the meeting, town council clerk Sharon Groth wrote: “Funding is key to securing qualified and experience youth workers for the town – hopefully this is something the town council can work with other stakeholders and partners to secure additional funding.”

The recommendations were drawn up following the forums in February and April, which included the town, district and county councils, plus police, schools and community groups.

The aim is for youth workers to meet vulnerable young people at times and locations suitable to them. The council may set up its own service or hire workers from an outside organisation.

The council’s stronger communities committee will discuss the steering group at its next meeting on Monday.

Previously, the aim was for youth services to be in place next month, but Ms Price admitted this would be too much of a challenge.

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She said: “We have to have the right plan, funding and people in place and we can’t rush that.

“Our priority is to get it right, but I’m really pleased the issue is quite high on the agenda now, so there are things we can do in and around August.”

The forum was originally set up due to the changing landscape of youth work in Witney and a spate of antisocial behaviour last winter.

The measures pledged to support ongoing youth work in the town, acknowledging work by the Witney Partnership of Schools, Abingdon & Witney College, social enterprise Synolos and children and families centres.

Witney-based Guideposts Trust, which works with young people with additional needs, autism and mental health issues, was also mentioned.

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The charity’s community opportunities manager, Kelly Gough, explained Guideposts was aiming to increase activities for young people.

She added: “This work will be greatly dependent on funding as well as local support and collaboration, which is why we welcome Witney Town Council’s active involvement.

“We value the council’s effort in bringing all stakeholders around the table so that together we can improve things for young people.”

Jill Coppock, a tutor at Abingdon & Witney College, said its community projects made students aware of those ‘less fortunate than themselves’.