Teenager pleads for reopening of Edinburgh's youth centre facilities

A teenager has called on the council to act now and open his local youth centre after his initial plea appeared to fall on deaf ears.
Brandon helping feed vulnerable families during lockdownBrandon helping feed vulnerable families during lockdown
Brandon helping feed vulnerable families during lockdown

Youth groups that rely on council buildings in Edinburgh to accommodate them have been shut out of their natural hubs since lockdown was announced earlier this year.

In September, a member of Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre was violently attacked by other youths in the area following a period of territorial disputes between rival groups from Moredun and the Inch.

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Shortly after the attack, Goodtrees pleaded with the council to allow them to reopen their centre so that they could best tackle the dispute between rivalling youth factions in the area.

They say that they are the best placed to deal with the rise in antisocial behaviour as well as other problems faced by youths in the community today.

But despite the pleas, the centre is still no closer to being open despite the Scottish government giving the green light in August.

Brandon Bonner, 13, from Moredun, who accesses youth work services at Goodtrees, has issued a fresh plea for the council to open the centre.

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He said: “The community centre means a lot to people, especially to folk from deprived communities like ours.

“Youth workers build trust and it is a place we can go and talk without being judged.

“As a group we worked tirelessly during lockdown with fellow young people to try to end violence as well as feed vulnerable families but now we need our space back to help ourselves. We are not stupid, we know how to be sensible and follow rules.

“I do not think the council understands the impact this has on young people.”

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Other centres have been able to open but this has tended to be the case for those that own their building, like Citadel Youth Centre in Leith.

A spokesperson for Goodtrees said: “We have protocols in place to operate safely, Scottish government guidance has been in place since August for this work to happen so we don’t understand why two months on, the council still don’t have a plan in place for this work to happen.

“Young people have demonstrated what they can achieve, supporting their local community through the most difficult period in our lifetime. It’s time for the council to open the doors and give them the opportunities for support that they deserve.

“Youth work needs a home.”

Cllr Alison Dickie, Education, Children and Families Vice Convener, said: “Youth work is an absolute priority for me and I've been pushing for these vital spaces to be opened again.

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“Some of our most vulnerable young people are supported through youthwork and those indoor spaces can be a lifeline.

“With winter weather now here, and Scottish government advice having permitted youthwork for some time, I urge that these spaces are now opened as safely and quickly possible.”

She added: “I fully understand the concerns being raised by Goodtrees and will be doing my utmost to get these clubs restarted so they can continue their vital work.”

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