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Disbelief as Town Council Denies Funds for Youth Mental Health Therapy

Jimmy Young Published: 08 December 2022

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Councillors voting down measure
Cllrs Robert Savage, Yvette Astley, Julian Halls, Suzanne Nuri-Nixon, Peter Broome and Kevin Hurn vote down the proposal. Photo credit: YouTube screenshot (https://youtu.be/ToGPDPO8MvY?t=3915)

Local not-for-profit mental health service Cup O-T will not receive money to provide 20 youth therapy sessions for up to 10x Wymondham youngsters at a time, after Wymondham Town Council rejected a proposal to cover the costs at their full meeting on 6th December 2022.

Cllrs Yvette Astley, Peter Broome, Mayor Kevin Hurn and Robert Savage (all Con) joined both Lib Dems present, Cllrs Julian Halls and Suzanne Nuri-Nixon to vote down Cllr Kim Carsok / Kathryn Cross’s (Con) proposal to provide the necessary £4937 to run the sessions.

Cup O-T provides occupational therapy, EDMR therapy and peer support for young people and families.

The measure would have been paid for out of the council’s Youth Support reserve of over £10k, which, according to one councillor, had not been used to fund any actual youth support measure for 17 years.

Town Council financial records show that the Youth Support reserve was however raided in 2019 to put towards the council’s new £2 million+ headquarters at Kett’s Park.

Funds transferred
£16,000 transferred from Youth Support to New Office in 2019

The decision prompted widespread anger and disappointment on social media with users commenting:

“This is an appalling decision for the young people of Wymondham. Young people have had an awful time in the last few years without being treated like they’re an irrelevance”

“Surely it is quite wrong that the funds earmarked for our young people are used elsewhere.”

“They can spend it on their new offices. That’s what Wymondham really needed.” said another sarcastically.

Wymondham Town Council building
Wymondham Town Council's £2 million+ office building

Upcoming Town Council elections in May 2023 were on the minds of many users:

“Time to vote the councillors out at next elections.”

“What a shower! Don’t forget to use your votes, guys!”

Reacting to the passionate social media reaction, Cup O-T occupational therapist Catherine Gray released a video to followers inviting residents to form a group to discuss ways youth budgets should be spent in future.

Local Green Party campaigner Joe Barrett published an open letter to the councillors who voted against the move, describing watching their actions as “nothing short of abhorrent”.

Among the reasons given by councillors who voted against the measure were concerns over details in the 7-page proposal about the provision of refreshments at the sessions, the inclusion of administrative costs to provide the sessions and the not-for-profit organisation using part of the money to advertise the availability of funded places.

A suggested amendment by Cllr Julian Halls to water down funding to a lower £2600, so as not to spend up to half of the unspent reserve at once, was rejected on the basis it would mean fewer spaces could be made available for Wymondham youngsters.

The same meeting saw the council vote unanimously to fund a separate charity, where one of the Town Council’s own councillors is a trustee.

The proposal’s co-author Cllr Kim Carsok, who was unable to attend the meeting due to family illness, branded the council “out of touch” and reacted:

“To the public, this will look like the Town Council is capable of great generosity and open-mindedness towards supporting a charity where one of its councillors is a trustee but will spare no effort to raise the scrutiny bar higher to be out of reach when it comes to a non-profit organisation supporting young people in Wymondham.”

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