Maghull – It’s innovative Youth Coffee has been killed off by Labour – How desperately sad

News reaches me that Labour has finally decided to kill off the innovative Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall after a few years or more of seemingly hoping it would simply die off. I understand that they have given the worker employed to help run the Coffee Bar notice to quit.

I have covered this story many times before through all its twists and turns and here is a link to those previous postings:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/11/15/maghull-so-whats-happened-to-the-towns-innovative-youth-coffee-bar-this-time/

As I have said before it was pretty obvious from the start of Labour’s tenure on Maghull Town Council that they simply did not care for the Youth Coffee Bar, possibly because they could not control it? Indeed, it had been deliberately set up so that young people ran it themselves and only relied on adult input as they required it. It was all about them doing things as they thought best, learning life skills along the way.

Sefton Youth Service was involved from the start but they were never really on-board with the concept as they wanted control, education curriculum related activities etc. When Maghull TC was Lib Dem-run we stuck to the format that young people told us they wanted and there were quite a few run-ins with Sefton Youth Service. There were, however, some notable exceptions to the dead hand of Sefton’s Youth Service in a number of individual youth workers who could see what was being created and why. Dear Nova Rimmer headed the list of enlightened youth workers and I was delighted to meet her in Southport a couple of weeks ago looking really well after a period of very poor health in her retirement. She was an absolute star and was so sad to hear of the demise of the Coffee Bar which she stuck her neck out to develop in the face of her employer’s grudging and limited backing.

The original idea for the facility was not a political one from the Lib Dems or any other party for that matter. It grew out of the ideas of young people attending Maghull’s local high schools. They came to the Town Council and the then Lib Dem administration ran with their ideas and made them a reality. We did not ask the youngsters to deliver leaflets for us or to join the Lib Dem Party in return for our support, we simply tried to give their ideas a chance to succeed.

Maghull TH Youth Coffee Bar

Nickie Smith was a leading light within the original group of young people who got the Youth Coffee Bar off the ground and my old chum Andrew Blackburn, back in the days when he was a Maghull and Sefton Councillor, took on all comers who had a downer on the Coffee Bar. And yes there were those who said they did not want a Youth Coffee Bar in the Town Hall which they felt was for adults. Andrew saw them off!

And you know what it became a huge success, regularly attracting numbers of young people well above what traditional youth centres were getting through their doors in Sefton Borough. What’s more folks from across Merseyside and beyond, with an interest in youth facilities, came to look at the Youth Coffee Bar as they considered replicating it in their own communities.

Maghull & District Youth Council, which the Town Council also nurtured, was a part of the management process but Labour-run Maghull TC seem to have let that slip away too.

This is all so very sad. Have Labour killed it off because they could not control it? Because they could not live with a project initiated during the Lib Dem era? Because they have no interest in youth facilities?

So sad, so sad, so sad…………….

Maghull – Youth Council – Nickie Smith – A big thank you and a nagging sadness

Nickie Smith writes – I am afraid I think the time is now right for me to withdraw from leading the [Maghull & District] Youth Council and the [Youth] Coffee Bar. I have been involved with the Youth Council for the last 25 years since I was 11 and with the Youth Coffee Bar since the start! In fact I was one of the members who approached the council with the suggestion of the Coffee Bar. Recent years have been very trying fighting for the Coffee Bar and the support that was once there seems very lacking these days. Now with my job and family commitments there are just not enough hours in the day and if I am honest I haven’t got the energy any more.

Nickie Smith

Nickie Smith

I hope the Town Council will continue to support the young people as the Coffee Bar and Youth Council have helped many people including myself develop and guided many vulnerable young people over the years. It seems now a days that all the good things young people do or need help with are very often forgotten or overshadowed by the minority of negative instances with young people.

I am sad to finish volunteering but I think now is the right time.

Tony Robertson writes It made me very sad to read this especially as it is from the very person who has been the guiding light for Maghull & District Youth Council and Maghull Town Hall’s unique Youth Coffee Bar from day one.

Sadly, and I think my Labour opponents will agree with me here, the Youth Coffee Bar and Youth Council have hardly been high on their priorities list since they took control of Maghull Town Council in 2011.

I have always seen young people as as a priority in my time as a councillor and that’s why I backed the setting up of the Youth Council and Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull many years ago. When we Lib Dems lost control of the Town Council it really did not enter my head that Labour would not see youth as a priority too. But you live and learn.

Nickie has done a splendid job, indeed she became a local councillor herself for number of years as a direct consequence of her work with local youngsters. She was helped along the way by many people both young and old but two people really do require a mention – Cllr. Andrew Blackburn and former now retired youth worker Nova Rimmer. Both of them stood by Nickie in the tough times and when young people came under the spotlight from those who did not support them as they did.

It can be tough working with youngsters because, by their very nature, they are trainee adults who make mistakes and sometimes act inappropriately; but we have all been there! The ethos of the Youth Coffee Bar when it was set up was that young people controlled it, looked after its finances and learned some life skills along the way. Adults were there to help when required but not to be controlling or dominant in any way.

My priority has been to put young people first and that meant the Youth Coffee Bar always being available for young people to use and it only being used by adults when young people were not using it. This was an important principle to me and indeed it used to be for Maghull Town Council. But, as I say, the priorities of one political party are not those of another and it has been obvious to me that young people are simply not near the top of Labour’s list of priorities. So much so that the Youth Coffee Bar will be closed between the 5th and 18th of November this year whilst it is used for another purpose. And yes, you have guessed it, the young people were told rather than consulted!

I have penned this tribute to Nickie and my moan about youngsters no longer being a priority more in sadness than in anger.

My previous posts on this subject are at:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2013/02/15/maghulls-famous-youth-coffee-bar-faces-funding-threat/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2011/07/11/maghulls-execellent-youth-coffee-bar/