Melling teenager tells Bill Esterson closure of Formby youth cen

Bill Esterson MP with Rose and Georgie Billinge and her two helpers Veronica Bennett and Melanie Lynsey Disley

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson met a Melling teenager and her mum who both say the service provided by Formby's Redgate Youth Centre is second to none for children with special needs.

Georgie Billinge, 15, attends the Formby centre every Wednesday. She has Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Mum Rose said she has seen a huge improvement in her daughter in the two years she has been going to the centre.

Rose said: "There's a lot of support for young people like Georgie at Redgate and the staff really are excellent. They are all fully trained and skilled in the needs of the youngsters who attend.

"I have seen a very noticeable difference in Georgie since she started attending the club. She's got a lot more confidence, she's a lot more independent and the centre is giving her the skills which she will use for the rest of her life. This is crucial for young people like Georgie.

"There will be schemes provided by other agencies elsewhere, but not all of the young people are comfortable with breaking the routine and having to go to different places. They have made friends with the other people who attend and they've built up trust in the excellent staff. This is a very important factor for people with ASD."

Rose said she felt totally devastated when she found out Redgate Youth Centre was a victim of the Tory-Lib Dem cuts.

She added: "I was numb when I first heard that the centre was going to close.

"This youth centre is the only one which deals with ASD. There's lots of people who are affected by this and there will be lots of people totally devastated by the closure of Redgate Youth Centre.

"This will hurt lots of young people. They've built up lots of friendships which many of them won't have been able to do before. Once it is closed, these friendship will be cut off.

"For parents like me, the centres give us some time off, which is very important when you consider carers don't get any break time or any holidays.

"These closures will hurt lots of people."

Georgie said she loves attending Redgate Youth Centre.

She told Bill: "I've made lots of friends since I've been going to Redgate. The staff who work there are really helpful and they're really good.

"Last year we went to the Lake District and we all had a great time.

"I'm glad I can go there because I've made lots of friends."

Bill Esterson said Georgie and Rose make a strong argument for saving the Formby centre.

The Labour MP said: "It is very clear that Georgie has benefited from the services which the centre and the staff provide at Redgate Youth Centre.

"But Georgie isn't an isolated case. There are lots of people who go to the Redgate centre and benefit from the service they provide.

"This is a service which they won't be able to access because of the short-sighted cuts which the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are imposing on Sefton.

"They need to listen to the service users like Georgie and hear directly from them why the services should be saved."

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