Star date: 26th September 2016


Oliver's Youth Club on Whit Lane, which is one of the few positive legacies from the hopelessly failed £53million Charlestown and Lower Kersal New Deal for Communities scheme, is to close.

At last week's East Salford Community Committee, youth worker Graham Cooper announced the closure of the eleven year old project saying "Oliver's Youth Club is being forced out...there is another loss of another facility in this area".

Full details here...

Olivers Youth Club Salford Olivers Youth Club Salford Olivers Youth Club Salford
Olivers Youth Club Salford Olivers Youth Club Salford Olivers Youth Club Salford
Olivers Youth Club Salford Olivers Youth Club Salford Olivers Youth Club Salford
Olivers Youth Club Salford Olivers Youth Club Salford Olivers Youth Club Salford
click image to enlarge

While the Whit Lane area reeled under the failed £53million Charlestown and Lower Kersal New Deal for Communities, which left a whole community in limbo and kids re-naming the area `The Forgotten Estate', Oliver's Youth Club was one of the few beacons of hope.

Over the last eleven years Oliver's has made a huge difference in the area, giving young people somewhere to go and something to do. The value of the Club volunteers' time alone was estimated at £20,000 per year, while police statistics show the reduction in crime on the estate since the youth club was established. 

Meanwhile, the young people at Oliver's fought to make the crumbling estate better, demanding a voice. In return they were largely ignored. Last year the Salford Star spoke to Curtis White, one of the Club's founders...

"We got the Amber Hut and the shops done up by a professional graffiti artist, we had a little farm going, we turned the bowling green into a small football pitch, and we had the Amber Hut as our youth centre" he said "They took the hut off us and in return we got St Sebastian's but they complain about noise and stuff like that. They got rid of the graffiti art too.

"There's been no engagement from Salix Homes or Salford Council with the youth
centre" he added "And, as the kids say, the only time they see the police is when they're chasing someone. There's no positive engagement at all. They're just not interested...I cannot believe they spent £53million on this area through New Deal for Communities. Where has it been spent?"

Over £400,000 of the NDC money was invested in St Sebastian's `community hub'. Like Curtis said, Oliver's was re-located there a few years ago, when the former bowling pavilion on Douglas Green, re-created as its youth centre in the name of Amber Lock - the 13 year old girl who was run over and killed - was demolished by Salford Council. 

Now Oliver's Youth Club is to close, `forced out' of St Sebastian's, as founder, Graham Cooper, told East Salford Community Committee last week. He explained that Oliver's had a lease with the centre but when the Club wasn't being used, the space was being rented out to other groups. Oliver's wanted the income from that set against its own rent but apparently this was refused...

"There's been a hell of a lot of money invested into St Sebastian's community centre but sadly, over the last year and a half the partnership and relationship we had with St Sebastian's has fragmented" he said "Because money's tight we asked them whether the rent they get in from the day time could be set against our rent. That was thrown back and we would still be charged rent.

"So, from tonight there is another loss of another facility in this area, a youth centre that's been going eleven years" he added "It's lost priorities but I also want to go back to the priorities of the NDC and why it invested over £400,000k into this building, from which Oliver's Youth Club is being forced out. I can assure you that Oliver's Youth Club will not leave this matter like that."

Oliver's was one of the last genuine, volunteer-run youth clubs in East Salford – that it's closing just as Keepmoat is moving into Whit Lane to build new houses, making an estimated £10million profit in the process*, says everything there is to know about Salford's methods of regeneration...

*See also previous related Salford Star articles

Massive Profits for Keepmoat Revealed in Charlestown Planning Application – click here

Charlestown Play Area Horror In Midst of Salford Regeneration - click here

Salford's £53million NDC Disgrace - click here 

Failure and Incompetence On Whit Lane - click here

UPDATE: 27th September: NDC Legacy Money Swallowed By Inspiring Communities Together Management Costs - click here

June wrote
at 13:37:11 on 06 November 2016
After reading the comments regarding Oliver's youth club and The St Sebastian's Centre. I am shocked with the comments made by Linda. You say the manager of the centre has turned things around for the better but I think if you take the time to listen to the local residents who remember the centre as a great place to visit with an excellent cafe and kitchen. There were activities every day, good food and a great sense of community. Many volunteers gave their time to support St Sebastian's. The changes made to the centre by NDC have destroyed an excellent building and cafe. The marketing seems non existent, the so called cafe is empty most of the time because of the microwave food on offer also there is no choice or enthusiasm from the staff. I feel the most alarming point is that the cafe closes at lunch time. I know this because once I attended an event there and I have spoken to residents who have poor views of the centre as it is now. I once lived in Levens st and experienced the areas decline first hand. I am saddened that Oliver's is now to close but St Sebastian's will not receive the income for the space so questions could be asked do the centre have plans for Oliver's space? so let's watch this space. Thank you Graham for the great support you give to our youths.
Former Chimley Street resident wrote
at 22:53:32 on 16 October 2016
Shocked ar this, But doesn't surprise me in the lease. The centre has been struggling for over 15 years,a cafe that no one goes into, staff are unpleaent and always busy with 2-3 people eating...that's not a cafe. So thousands put into improving St Sebastian's and what for,to pay salaries to the manager Gerry,the worst investment ever made by former NDC and now ICT, Why are groups not able to get help from ICT and why are ICT funding groups outside the area, Bernadette Elder is to blame for this mess since joining NDC mid it's 10 years of hell with help of Ann Marie Pickup, As a former resident of the area and forced out of my home to make way for new homes ..your both hang your heads in Shame
at 07:34:51 on 11 October 2016
Inspiring communities and st Sebastians should feel ashamed, they are just out to make money for wages with no regard for community groups. Why does st Sebastian's not help community groups ? Because it listened to inspiring communities together and asks for more money and forgets the grass roots community groups needs. This is very sad but very true.
at 05:47:26 on 11 October 2016
So much is said about this inspiring communities group taking all the income from Salford city council over £86:000 each year yet where does this money go ? No community grants, no money on environmental projects, no money invested in local projects or people ? They say the same thing year after year. Questions need to be asked why do SCC keep paying this money when there is no benefit to our community. Come on SCC and our Councillors get your act together and stop this taking community money for wages for nothing else? All this money could be invested in our community but ICT take it in wages, is this fair ? And why do SCC allow this to happen ? Please stop this happening !!!
Curtis white wrote
at 06:25:33 on 29 September 2016
Just read a comment about youth clubs being an old fasioned concept and a waste of money.... well to start with the reason its an old fasioned concept which still works to this day is because they save money not waste it like some of the council organisations you see today. Youth centres are run by local volunteers with one motive in mind, improve the lives of the next generation not turn up get a wage and go home. From the age of about 14 i was on nobodys radar i didnt go school engaged with nobody other than OLivers youth club. The youth club played a massive part in my life with me not having any positive role models it guided me onto the right path into adult hood which has lead me to getting a great job starting my own family morgaging my home and generally being a positive part of society which not targeted intervention would ever do (6 week projects will always fail by the way you need trust, loyalty and a true motive to engage qith young people not a tick box scheme). Secondly why have youth clubs took on the responsibilty of preventing riots? As a youth club i was a volunteer in we worked closely with families, young people and POLICE to help break down the barriers between them. That night of the riots most youth centers was open also alberts football pitch was open via a youth club which was attended by lots of young people. Check your statistics before you make out young people was a major part of the riots your ratio is wrong. I will finish up with an opinion....... i think that youth clubs play a bigger part than any funded ORGANISATION ever could at engaging young people into the system.
Out of balance wrote
at 11:06:24 on 27 September 2016
Whilst is is sad that the youth club is to close, I think what really needs to be looked at is the waste of 53 Million pounds £53,000,000 and weigh that against the cuts in recent years. Pictures should be taken of the area and the people who were involved with spending the money held to account. I would guess that most of them are still involved in schemes that involve spending public money and still getting paid a very good wage as well. If someone did not tell you that 53 Million (that is £53,000,000)had been spent on the area, you would never guess by looking at it. When you think of the good that the money could have done around Salford and you look at all the services that have been cut by the council it is almost criminal. Part of the trouble with the people involved in these schemes is they get paid around 10% of the total money spent. Therefore, it is in their interest to get the most money they can for any scheme that is taking place. They are not paid on results (otherwise, most of them would never get paid at all) and when the schemes end and the money runs out, like a plague of locusts, they just move one to another area and another 10% of any funding for other schemes. With a lot of funding, not just council spending,if the budget is not fully spent within a certain time, then there is less money available for the next time. This system does not encourage the good use of the money, more the thinking that "We need to spend this money" With any residual money left from the scheme, if there actually is any, a plaque with the names of all the people who pissed away the money and caused the devastation to the area could be put up. It might serve as a warning the next time some "Emperor's new clothes" scheme comes up.
Brian wrote
at 11:06:08 on 27 September 2016
Graham I am shocked that St Sebastian's have had a 300k refurb and more shocked by the over £130.000 management costs. Just where has all this money come from ? and why management cost's ? Just what is happening ? who has paid this money and why ?
Michael James Felse wrote
at 11:05:59 on 27 September 2016
Dedication by traditional grass roots is evident. Problem is the Council. The interest on Council borrowed cash has crippled Salford. Their policy was to take out thousands of good Band A family houses but their replacement new builds failed to match council tax usable income. Recent policy to build high and fast will further destroy community cohesion by out of City workers having no interest in local youth clubs while our Council fails to collect property developer income. Even Labour MPs refuse to live in Salford which says a lot. I supported Labour for 40 years but they have lost the sensible plot. Salford deserves better.
Salford lad wrote
at 09:14:29 on 27 September 2016
Youth clubs are an old fashioned concept and a waste of money. Targeted interventions with disaffected youths are what works. Olives youth club and similar which were functioning at the time of the riots made no difference either before or after them riot. Time to get off your soap box Graham and move on.
Graham Cooper wrote
at 05:25:57 on 27 September 2016
For the record Linda St Sebs also got over £130k towards management costs on top of 300k refurb. We got some new kit for young people. Since then we have paid our way Last
Brenda Hodgkiss wrote
at 05:25:53 on 27 September 2016
What has the NDC done but spoil our area and waste 53 million. So much of this wasted money was spend on wages and supporting St Sebastian's throwing £400.00 community money at a centre and after that still supporting with community money or staff time. I am appaulled and disgusted that Oliver's have been treated this way. I am sure it is not ethical or legal to rent out a room getting an income when the room was already rented. And this a church centre. The new group Inspiring Community must still spend community money at this centre as I am sure otherwise it would be difficult to keep open. Why are they allowed to support this behaviour with community money. What sad news that such deceit has been happening at a church community centre. When will somebody like SCC stop this as they need to look at where the money is going and what St Sebastian's and also Inspiring Community is doing. Thank you Graham for sharing this dishonest behaviour. Please Salford City Council step in and stop this happening. Support your community.
Linda wrote
at 19:43:36 on 26 September 2016
There is no doubt that youth facilities and support is needed in all areas. Unfortunately these have dwindled across the city due to a change in how youth services are delivered and thus funding for actual clubs has disappeared. A big mistake in my view. However, I don't feel that taking a big stick to St Sebastian's is the answer. If the club has been financially struggling to pay rent, then this would be the case anywhere. I believe the NDC grant was used to refurbish the centre, but it's only thanks to the current manager that the centre is still there. Gerry has managed against all odds to bring St Sebastians out of deficit, thereby saving the centre from certain closure. It's important to keep St Sebastians going for the whole of the local community. Loads of community projects are going to the wall thro lack of funding, and it's the powers that be to blame not those struggling to keep things going.
Reg Howard wrote
at 17:25:46 on 26 September 2016
During the mid 1970's I worked in youth service in Salford, those of us who did predicted the demise of youth service. Our reason for coming to this conclusion was that it came under the umbrella of education and, as such shared a common budget,so each time schools wanted more, youth services got less.youth service has always suffered in this city because we had councillors whose priories lay with bowing down to big business whilst ignoring the needs of our young people,only when we get rid of this council and put in place people who really care about the real people of this city,(not the ones they are trying to attract to live in this non affordable city where our local young people will have no chance of a home in the city of birth. The closure of Olivers is yet more proof that this council don't care. When the city erupts again, (as it surely will)don't blame the kids, blame those inept cretins whose job it is to manage the city. AS YE SOW, SO SHALL YE REAP
Lee Craven MBE wrote
at 15:11:26 on 26 September 2016
Shocking news for the youth of Charlestuwn,I've seen this club grow over the years enabling young people to gather in a safe environment,with Geaham Cooper's support ,advice and helping the youth via training & Job opportunities,now this will be lost this has put a smear on the name of the late Amber Lok ( Amber Ptoject)who never will be forgotten.... I've seen Graham and his many great volunteers work hours & hours to enable the club the success it's had and was delivered totally Free by all involved. I'm now concerned about Charlestown youth,the area,and the residents, My heart goes our ro those who have committed so much over so many years and give my full support wherever needed.
Alice wrote
at 13:15:25 on 26 September 2016
Graham Cooper is a dedicated youth leader who understands and supports the members of this club. He should be supported by the Council, either through the East Salford Community Committee, the Council itself or even the Police. Occupying young people in a safe environment with positive activities has been proved to be the best way to divert them from anti social behaviour. To close such a facility will prove to be a mistake. Surely a solution to this situation, which is a matter of redirected money, can be solved. There are pockets of money which could be tapped if Sebastians doesn't change its mind.
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