The Milton Keynes Conservatives are pledging to fund 6 new youth centres across Milton Keynes to provide more opportunities for young people, improve their mental health wellbeing and deter them from crime, if they are elected in May’s elections.
As it stands, there is a lack of provision for young people seeking out youth clubs and centres in MK, especially in the newer estates where there is a desperate lack of provisions for young people. The local Conservatives say they want to change this by expanding MK’s youth service provisions to reach more youngsters in the city.
Recently, research from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Swansea suggested that probable mental health conditions among children and young people rose from 11% in 2017 to 16% in July 2020. This figure is likely to have risen as the UK has undergone two further national lockdowns that included the suspension of schools and sporting activities.
The MK Conservatives, despite having an amendment rejected to invest in children and young people’s mental health by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, are still determined to ensure that mental health provisions for young people are improved.
As part of their double-pronged approach to dealing with children’s mental health and youth crime in MK, they want to ensure that the staff trained at the new youth centres pass Youth Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses.
This is to ensure that the youth centres are not only a safe space for youngsters, but also one where the staff can spot the signs of mental health issues in a young person and stop a mental health issue from getting worse.
Research shows that the links between gang-affiliation and poor mental health can operate in both directions. Poor mental health wellbeing can draw young people to gangs while gang involvement can negatively impact an individual’s mental health.
However, this can be combated via investment into new youth centres as these can protect children from the risk factors for gang involvement and poor mental health.
The Conservatives say that although knife crime is down 8% in MK, there can be no complacency with the future of our children.
Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of the Conservative Group, said: “It is our number one priority to provide opportunities for our young people in MK.
“The link between youth crime and mental health is proven and more must be done to provide the support our young people need so that they can fulfil their full potential.
“That’s why we’re pledging to invest in 6 new youth centres to ensure our young people are supported no matter what post-lockdown.
“Young people have bore the brunt of this pandemic – they will need support. We will look at innovative ways of delivering the new centres, working with the private sector and schools.”
Local campaigner Shazna Muzammil, who works closely with young offenders, said: “We need to find opportunities for young people so they don’t get attracted to crime and work more closely with organisations to offer interventions beyond youth conditional cautions.
“By investing in 6 new youth centres with staff trained to spot mental health issues in our young people, we can give them the support they need now.
It is vital to have interventions in place to grow our young people and prevent violence from happening”