Bedford MP joins demonstration to save centre for young vulnerable people

"If this centre were to close, the significant impact of this on our learners and their families could be devastating"

Monday, 28th June 2021, 1:39 pm
Updated Monday, 28th June 2021, 3:15 pm

Demonstrators took to the streets of Bedford to campaign against the closure of a centre for young, vulnerable people trying to re-engage in education.

Bedford Develop - in Tavistock Street - has been helping young people for eight years but has been told by the Department for Education (ESFA) its funding could end next month.

And on Friday (June 25), staff and learners demonstrated with the support of Bedford MP Mohammad Yasin.

Bedford Develop staff and learners demonstrated on Friday
Bedford Develop staff and learners demonstrated on Friday

Ben Yates, tutor and centre administrator at Bedford Develop, said: "It is not just education, it is helping with young people’s wellbeing that our service provides.

"There is a very high chance that the centre will close. ESFA funding for the centre and Develop EBP as a whole ends this academic year, which is July 23."

Another supporter said: "If this centre were to close, the significant impact of this on our learners and their families could be devastating. Our young people do not want to attend mainstream college; they are unable to attend mainstream college.

"Our local authority fully support us and there is no other education provider in Bedford quite like our centre."

Bedford MP Mohammad Yasin joined Bedford Develop staff and learners

The not-for-profit organisation has been in talks with the ESFA as well as trying to find other outside funding. You can support its campaign on Facebook - you can also sign the petition here

A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson said: “Bedford Borough Council was not involved in the decision by the ESFA to withdraw its funding towards Develop.

“The local authority has a good working relationship with the Bedford training centre and has commissioned education places from this centre for many years resulting in good outcomes for those learners.

“It is regrettable that the ESFA has taken the decision to withdraw the funding. We will continue to work with Develop’s Bedford centre and offer support as appropriate.”

Bedford Develop staff and learners demonstrated on Friday
Bedford Develop staff and learners demonstrated on Friday