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Cuts leave youth team ‘stunned’

06 December 2013

SHUTTERSTOCK

THE diocese of Chichester is set to replace its youth and children's team with a single youth officer, as part of a "restructuring exercise" that will, in part, fund the creation of a fourth archdeaconry.

A number of diocesan employees were served with formal consultation letters last week, advising them that their posts could be made redundant. One of them, the adviser for work with children and young people, Ali Campbell, took to his blog to reveal that his five-strong team would be replaced by a single youth officer.

One of the reasons given for the restructuring was to "make economies for greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness and to fund posts . . . such as the fourth archdeacon and the increased resources in safeguarding and education".

"I am stunned. I am angry. I am in pain," Mr Campbell said. He described much of the work of the team as "unseen", and "supporting those at the grassroots of church ministry - volunteers engaged with children's, youth and families work".

In a statement, the diocese of Chichester said that the diocesan synod had approved a planned £241,000 deficit in its 2014 budget, "on the proviso that everything possible would be done to minimise costs and maximise return on assets. "Running such deficits is unsustainable as the diocese's unrestricted reserves are close to being exhausted. The status quo is no longer an option."

It said that it needed to restrict increases in parish share "to a realistic and affordable level".

"The primary agent of mission is the local church, and where resources are limited this must be the first call on our income."

The diocese emphasised that "the loss of posts at Church House is no reflection on the competence of the current post-holders, nor their significant contribution to the life of the Church. It is a very hard decision based on our current financial situation."

A diocesan spokeswoman said that she could not confirm the total number of potential redundancies, or the amount that would be cut from the budget as part of the proposed restructuring, until the confidential consultation process had been concluded in the New Year.

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