Staff and volunteers at a Midland radio station facing the axe in government cuts have rubbished David Cameron’s vow to build a Big Society.
Kic FM, in Wolverhampton, has provided work for 500 volunteers aged 16 to 24 during each year of its decade serving the community.
The station will lose its £100,000 annual grant it received through national young volunteers service V – its only source of income.
They fear that, as well as having to make five staff redundant, the station will let down youngsters who rely on experience at the internet station to boost confidence and give them a positive start to adult life.
V has been told it has lost its Cabinet Office funding, and Kic FM, based at Wolverhampton University’s Compton Park campus, is one of many projects being axed at the end of March as a result.
Station chief executive Rob Smith said: “It’s been amazing to hear what our volunteers from 2001 are doing now. There’s people working on Radio 2 and for the World Service, a researcher for Ian Austin MP and one guy setting up his own station in south Wales. Cameron has gone off on his Big Society thing, but it’s an absolute mess – it’s a farce. They’ve just gone in there making cuts – there’s no strategy for young people. Being with us, people have increased their confidence and have learned how to talk to other people.”
Volunteer Tej Kaur Rai, 23, said she started at the station because spiralling tuition fees had forced her into the world of work. She said Kic FM allowed her to “learn useful media skills and to have a reason to wake up in the morning”.
Wolverhampton North East Labour MP Emma Reynolds said: “If this is what the Government means by Big Society it’s pretty clear that people in Wolverhampton don’t want it.”
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The Government centrally funded the national charity V for a three-year programme which ends in March 2011. Decisions on future funding are still being considered.
“V is also working with us on new project as a provider of National Citizen Service pilots in 2011, which will benefit young people in many parts of England. We aim that all 16-year-olds will eventually get the chance to go on this seven to eight week volunteering programme.”