A “lifeline” Clydebank charity that provides support to vulnerable young people says they are “devastated” after their funding was slashed.

Y Sort It’s core funding was cut by 25 per cent earlier this month as West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) set its budget for 2024/25.

The group, which is based in West Thomson Street, has been supporting local youngsters for more than two decades by providing a safe space where they can come together to learn life skills, make friends, work on personal development, and much more.

Gillian Kirkwood, chief executive officer at Y Sort It, told the Post she is “extremely disappointed” by the decision.

Clydebank Post: Gillian said: “We are extremely disappointed at the outcome of the budget meeting and the impact this will have on the services and support we can offer in the future.

“With one in four children in West Dunbartonshire living in poverty, our support is a lifeline to so many.

“Every day we see the impact that the cost of living crisis and poverty is having on those who access our services.”

Previously Y Sort It received £117,093 from the council to provide its services. A 25 per cent cut to this funding works out to around £29,273.

Reducing the charity’s budget was one of more than 50 money-saving options presented to councillors as they worked to plug the remaining £8.3m budget gap.

Ahead of the meeting, members of Y Sort It, their parents, carers, and guardians as well as some of the charity’s staff joined the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration outside of the council’s headquarters in Dumbarton calling on councillors not to approve this option.

Gillian explained that the decision “was avoidable” and “short-sighted”.

Clydebank Post: She added: “The Y Sort It budget cut was avoidable. There was no opportunity for consultation or discussion.

"Y Sort It’s approach to youth work has led to a significant reduction in youth mental health issues, youth offending, and substance misuse whilst leading to increased attainment, and alleviating the impact of child poverty for many of the young people we support.

“The budget cut is short-sighted, as every year we save the local council and statutory services money.

“Now we will need to reduce the service and support we offer at a time when we are needed more than ever by children, young people, and families.”

Clydebank Post: Y Sort It supports more than 600 young people each year through running weekly youth clubs, holiday programmes, a young carer support service, and a service for care-experienced young people including mentoring/learning opportunities.

Michelle Bell, chairperson at Y Sort It, expressed her devastation and added that the charity is ‘more than a youth project, it is a frontline service’.

Clydebank Post: She said: “We are devastated at the decision taken by the council to cut our budget. Everything we provide is free so children and young people can access support with dignity and without stigma.

“We provide meals and food at all groups and club sessions which are attended by over 200 young people each week.

“We work with West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare to provide school uniforms and have set up a Helping Hands Hardship Fund for young people to access support for food, energy, or clothing.

“Y Sort It is more than a youth project, we are a frontline service which we proved as we supported the response to Covid and currently the cost of living crisis.”

A WDC spokesperson said: “Due to the challenging financial landscape the council is operating in, with a £17million budget shortfall for 2024/25, it is not possible to continue delivering services or funding in the same way.

“We value the work Y Sort It undertakes in our communities and are continuing to provide funding of £87,820 to support their work in 2024/25.

“In addition, this group may be eligible to access assistance through the new Success Funds which are being established to support communities.”