“As well as the stripping-back of some of the most essential public services, one of the key effects of 10 years of austerity has been the crushing of countless other shared spaces: drop-in centres, libraries, Sure Starts.
Perhaps the most overlooked casualties have been the hundreds of youth centres and clubs that have closed since 2010. More than 600 such facilities in Britain have shut over the last six years, with the loss of 139,000 youth places and 3,650 staff.
In our major cities, anxiety about this organised neglect is focused on gangs and knife crime. In quieter parts of the country people’s worries are more basic – as in Gywnedd, north Wales, where recent plans to close all 39 of the county’s youth clubs were greeted with the unanswerable argument that “young people will have nowhere but the streets to socialise with each other in the evenings”.