THE future of Dudley’s youth provision is being put in the hands of volunteers after four new clubs across the borough have been commissioned.

Stourbridge’s Chawn Hill Church youth group Ignite has already been tasked with setting up clubs at churches in Norton and Brockmoor, and will soon create another in Pensnett.

Three of the new ‘term time’ groups for 11 to 18-year-olds start this week, with Chawn Hill’s club taking place on Fridays between 7.30pm and 9.30pm.

A club at St Michael’s Church in Maynard Avenue, Norton, will be on Mondays at 7.30pm until 9.15pm, while St John’s in Brockmoor High Street host a group on Tuesdays between 6pm and 8pm.

The move follows severe cuts to youth provision by Dudley Council last year where the cash pot stood at £1.6million per year – just over half what it was in 2010/11.

Councillor Ian Cooper, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We commission a number of our services out to specialist providers across the borough including, in this instance the youth service.

“We aim to provide high quality activities and facilities for young people and are constantly looking for new ways to work with the community.

“In light of reduced funding from national Government we are keen to ensure this community council approach is replicated across the authority.

“The agreement with the churches is set to last for 18 months and I am sure young people will get enormous benefit from these valuable community facilities.”

Part of the council’s cuts to youth provision saw the axe come down on Kingswinford Youth Centre, based in High Street.

Dudley South MP Mike Wood has criticised the council’s youth cuts, saying: “Although budgets are extremely difficult to manage at the best of times, this council always appear to target the vulnerable, elderly and young.

“The centre in Kingswinford was closed without consultation and without a plan for what to do with the site once it had closed.

“More than 18 months after the council closed it, the building has been vandalised and stands empty whilst falling ever further into a state of disrepair.”

Local councillors have since been working with community groups to try and bring life back into the youth centre, with the most recent attempt coming in the form of Calvary Church, however, the church are no longer interested in using the building.

Conservative’s shadow cabinet member for health and wellbeing, Councillor Natalie Neale, expressed her disappointment in the recent developments.

She said: “It is disappointing that Calvary Church no longer want the site, but there are other interested parties.

“We are trying our best to get the building back into use for our young community once again, as the youth of Kingswinford need provision to stop them handing around on street corners.

“We visited the centre recently and unfortunately the inside is getting into poor condition, so I hope a group can get in there as soon as possible as I don’t want to see it get knocked down.”

For more information about the new youth clubs call Chawn Hill Church office on 01384 397287.