By Hans Lovejoy
While they are not out of the woods yet, there’s some more good news for a small group of Byron shire youth workers that provide essential support and services for its young people.
Byron Youth Service (BYS) is facing an uncertain future after state and federal funding was cut recently, but thankfully locals and two foundations have responded generously. And there’s even hope that the federal funding maybe reinstated.
Deb Pearse from BYS told Echonetdaily that ‘a $10,000 cheque from the Orgill Family Foundation came with a note which said they read the article in the Byron Shire Echo!’
The donation adds to the $62,000 already pledged; The Flannery Foundation recently donated $50,000 at an art auction/dinner, while a private donated $10,000.
Deb says ‘It is great news and gives us some hope (we haven’t had much the previous six months) but we still need a fair bit more as we’ve still lost the funding for [state government funded] Links to Learning and Youth Connections, both of which were great programs and had been running effectively for years.
‘I think we can be fairly confident about the funding for [federal government funded] Youth Enterprise; we’re just submitting the application, one is never sure till the money is in bank though,’ she said.
‘We are hoping that the flea market will grow, the first one was great. Next one on Saturday July 11 and coincides with beachside markets.
‘The plan is for young people to run their own stalls, supporting them to be enterprising. Young people will also provide live music each market and they will also be involved in running the kitchen so it will all feed into each other.
‘We only have the funding to run Street Cruise on Friday nights, which is such a pity. I often get SMS or Facebook messages to ask if we’re in town on Saturday nights as well.
‘It is fairly quiet [at the moment], but personally I like it better, there’s the space for more time to chat and connect with young people on a more meaningful level. In summer, it’s a lot more hectic and contacts are faster and based more on immediate need.
Young kids responding
‘We are hoping to run a few different programs for young people that will be based around what the said they wanted at the last youth forum. That includes a variety of activities on Friday night at the YAC and hopefully another music event.
‘On a personal level, I’ve been impressed with how much the young people are responding to our situation too.
All the young people in the Mullum Cottage programs have been paying $15 per term for our lunchtime program and the majority of them have been doing it. That’s a new thing; sometimes parents send extra, which is much appreciated. I have a couple of gorgeous girls who have great singing voices who come and sing at fundraising events.
‘It’s given me hope too that people have tried to help us in all sorts of ways, not just financial. Friends have donated things we need at the cottage, Brook Farm are donating lots of very yummy muesli, Earth and Sea still donate pizza for Street Cruise, and have so for many, many years.
‘Now, I just need some kind person to donate a couple of couches for the Cottage so the young people aren’t sitting on cold metal frames.
‘Also there’s only three core workers left: me, Stephanie Sims and Rosalie Bryant. We keep each other going and both Steph and Rosalie work very hard and are coming up with great ideas to run programs for young people that are positive and effective but run on a shoe-string.’
To get involved, call Byron 6685 7777, Mullum on 6684 3086 or visit www.bys.org.au.