9:24am Thursday 20th June 2013
By Mike Laycock
YORK council chiefs have explained why the authority spent £180 on pedicure treatments for a group of “vulnerable” young girls.
City of York Council said the pedicures were part of a Positive Activities For Young People programme that it ran with disadvantaged young people in the city.
A spokeswoman said nine young people had the treatment, supported by three members of staff who paid separately for their treatments.
She said: “The programme focused on positive interactions, building confidence and self-esteem.
“The rationale for staff and young people participating is grounded in youth work principles and practice in order to bring together a diverse group of vulnerable girls from different parts of the city centred on an activity that enables them to build trusting and purposeful relationships and engaging them as a group.”
She said that as part of the programme young people had some scope to choose and plan activities, informed by career aspirations to work in the hair and beauty sector.
Referrals came from a number of agencies, including schools, police and social services, but she could not give details of the girls or staff members because of data protection legislation and a duty of confidence.
She said five of the group had expressed an interest in a career in hair and beauty, and three had since progressed to college courses or training in this occupational area.
However, Coun George Barton, deputy leader of the council’s Tory group, claimed that while any programme involving help for vulnerable young people should be viewed with compassion, not enough thought had been given at a time of financial restraint to achieving the goals by less costly means.
He suggested that if the project was justified and worthwhile many businesses would willingly have donated the service for free.
But Coun Janet Looker, the council’s cabinet member for education, children and young people, said: “It’s not always easy to understand for those of us who’ve had relatively comfortable upbringings how this small amount of money could be money well spent. “The positive news is that many of the young people involved have gone on to college courses in a related area.
“It is one of a number of ways, many costing only officer time, that go toward helping vulnerable young people build positive, self-sufficient futures for themselves.”
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