The Thornhill Youth Centre in Southampton is being bulldozed to make way for unaffordable flats. Council-funded youth services ceased in the city in 2013. Since then, the Thornhill building leaser has struggled to cover rent.
The council, who own the building, have stepped in and sold the land to housing developers.
My mum, now in her late 50s, grew up in the area. She told me: “The youth club has always been a place for young people to hang out. We used to play badminton and table tennis there. It’s sad to see all the facilities, which build community, being literally destroyed.”
Josh, who was part of the ‘save our youth services’ campaign in 2012, told me: “When the council first voted to stop all funding for youth services, they said the services would be run by volunteers and stay open.”
“We warned that volunteers and charities would be unable to maintain the services and the council would wait for them to be run down and sell the land for profit – which is exactly what has happened!”
A few weeks ago, city leaders initiated controversial Section 60 stop-and-search powers following a serious knife incident less than a mile from the youth club. It’s no surprise to residents that the lack of youth facilities is making communities less safe, particularly for young people.