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Carlisle Key: Supporting young people

21 June 2013

The Austerity Uncovered bus stops in Carlisle. Photo Christopher Best,

In Carlisle, Northern TUC staff visited Carlisle Key for Austerity Uncovered. It’s a local charity that offers advice and support for young people aged between 16-25 years old.

The charity has been operating since 1997 where it first offered overnight accommodation for 16-25 year olds who found themselves homeless. Like all charities and community based initiatives the savage cuts by this government now means they have had to scale down their project to a drop-in service. They have secured funding from Northern Rock’s foundation to sustain the project for the next three years. This funding pays for two employees running the drop in centre and without volunteers the service would be even more reduced.

We spoke to Julie Crosbie, Project Manager, who told us about their work with young people and how welfare reform is affecting young people. Staff and volunteers regularly sit with young adults to help them complete benefit claims online, as many don’t have ICT facilities to hand, this takes up a great deal of staff time and there’s a real worry about the £50 fine that can be imposed by the DWP for not completing online forms correctly. Julie also spoke about how the centre helps to distribute food parcels. Shockingly, she has had experience of giving young people food parcels, only to find out that they do not have the cash for gas or electricity to cook the meals.

For us as trades unionists, these stories were a worrying insight into how welfare reforms and funding cuts are affecting our communities and voluntary groups, and a challenge for us in the Northern TUC to partner with with Carlisle Key and support the vital work they and similar groups are doing.

17 June - 29 June


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