Youth clubs: did ‘hyperlocal’ have a role in sustaining beyond funding cuts?

July 13th, 2012 by Jerome Turner in Hyperlocal | no comments

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning reported on the rejuvenation of youth clubs who had lost council funding in the last year and were sustaining themselves through community volunteers. BBC News’ Mark Easton reported he had found ”loads and loads of stories, I stopped when i got to 60, where people had rallied round in some way and managed to reopen the service for the young people”. You can hear the full report here.

There are many issues here e.g. should volunteers be expected to be providing what often amounts to ‘youth services’, especially with potentially vulnerable group, and at one point Easton even observed it was maybe the closing down of services that had fuelled active citizens, although I can’t imagine anyone would suggest this would be a desirable model for engaging or promoting creative citizenship.

Aside of these points, what really interested me, in relation to the Creative Citizens project, is the role that hyperlocal publishing and community web presences may have had in promoting the need for volunteers, recruiting citizens to the cause, and contributing to the reopening of these youth clubs. I haven’t found any account or list of those 60 stories yet but will update if this comes about.

6VillYouth villages covered

Map showing communities covered by 6VillYouth group

Easton visited Norfolk, where all council-funded youth clubs had closed and gave the example of Dickleburgh in Norfolk where ‘they were struggling to find volunteers there’. A little digging around finds that there is a hyperlocal news site, run by Dickleburgh and Rushall Parish Council, but there also is, or was a healthy web presence for the Youth Club, including a site, Facebook page and Twitter account. It seems that the youth group may still be supported by the Parish Council, but if we look at the most recent entries and posts on those accounts, they haven’t been able to be maintained more recently.

It would be interesting to explore the role of hyperlocal in such cases. The 6VillYouth accounts have low follower numbers (Facebook likes: 46, Twitter followers: 34), but then this may be appropriate to the size and digital inclusion of the communities, where word of mouth and other media are also in play? How might a digital hyperlocal presence draw in volunteers from wider circles than the six villages? How might an online presence be used to lobby/petition for funding and other support?

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