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Teens protest against cuts by Brent Council to LGBT youth centre in Kilburn

PUBLISHED: 13:28 18 February 2016 | UPDATED: 18:03 18 February 2016

LGBT youth group MOSAIC gathered outside Brent civic centre on Wednesday to campaign against council cuts (Picture: Adam Thomas)

LGBT youth group MOSAIC gathered outside Brent civic centre on Wednesday to campaign against council cuts (Picture: Adam Thomas)

© Adam Tiernan Thomas

A group of teenagers staged a colourful protest outside Brent Council’s headquarters yesterday against a decision to axe all funding for their youth centre in Kilburn.

Ralph Rosa, 16, spoke out against the closure of the Kilburn-based support centre from April 1 (Pic: Adam Thomas)Ralph Rosa, 16, spoke out against the closure of the Kilburn-based support centre from April 1 (Pic: Adam Thomas)

More than 30 members of Mosiac youth centre brandished banners and megaphones outside Brent Civic Centre in Engineers Way, Wembley, demanding the council reverse the decision which has been made as part of its £54million cuts programme.

The youth centre, which is the only dedicated service for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans teenagers in north London, provides workshops, sexual health advice and counselling for 13-19 year olds at weekly sessions in Kilburn.

Its funding will be stopped on April 1.

The exact location of the centre cannot be disclosed to protect its users.

The centre’s four youth workers, who are currently facing losing their jobs, also provide sexual health and education seminars in schools across the borough.

Ralph Rosa, 16, Mosiac member, said: “We are protesting because Brent council are cutting funding for our youth services like a block of cheese.

“They are apparently stripping funding for LGBT services because they do not think we are important enough.”

The youth centre, which helps teens struggling to cope with the impact of their sexuality on their friendships and family life, was told of the budget decision in May last year.

It now faces an uphill battle to raise the funds to keep the services up and running at a new, privately rented premises in Camden from the end of next month.

Arran Jabbali, 16, said: “Mosiac means freedom. For us it’s somewhere you can go and truly be yourself without being judged.

“It’s a relaxed, safe space and it’s our home. I came here when I was worried about coming out and they really helped me.

“I just fear for the next generation of LGBT youth who won’t have the same opportunities we did.”

Jayme Cohen, 16, who feared she would be made homeless before Mosiac helped her come out about her sexuality, added: “Without funding it’s going to fall apart.”

A spokesman for Brent Council said it was in the process of arranging to share the provision of services for LGBT youngsters with neighbouring boroughs from July 2016.

He said: “The council has needed to make a significant reduction to Brent’s youth budget so that the local authority can set a legal budget, maintain the services it is legally required to provide, and save £54 million by 2016-17.

“This reduction means that we can no longer directly fund Mosaic.

“While it may not be possible to sustain specialist provision for LGBT young people on the same scale, we have asked that the new provider targets vulnerable groups including LGBT young people in Brent.”

For more information about Mosiac youth centre and its support services visit: http://bit.ly/1R9CQRB

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