I COULDN’T agree more with David Ashford’s letter regarding youth club funding (Letters, December 5).

Here in South Lanarkshire, for example, there has been a huge reduction in funding for youth organisations over the years, which is a trend likely to continue for some time due to severe and continuing cutbacks in council budgets.

This affects the ability of youth organisations to carry out their excellent work of engaging with young people and influencing attitudes that have a bearing on their life choices. This factor, together with face-to-face interaction with other young people, is an obvious way of countering the “loneliness” effect of social media use. As Mr Ashford says, society can only gain from investment in youth work.

I happen to be involved in running a community centre (for the benefit of all ages) in an area which includes an “area of deprivation”. In its former life, the building was a full-time youth hub, but funding levels have reduced today’s youth activity to a mere two hours per week, run by a professional youth organisation. Today’s lack of funding for youth work also means that centres like ours cannot directly take on, or arrange training for, youth workers to expand this type of important work and develop the skills of young people.

When applying for Big Lottery funding a couple of years ago for development purposes (including the provision of a youth worker), our application was unsuccessful. We were told that the focus had “shifted away from youth”, to the “general community”. Although our centre is constituted to provide facilities for all ages, we also see value in, and recognise the importance of, the expansion of youth work provision.

Therefore, I fully support David Ashford’s plea to the Scottish Government to invest heavily in the provision of basic core funding for youth clubs everywhere.

Dennis White
Blackwood, Lanark

JIM Taylor (Letters, January 3), makes a number of comments against adopting the Nordic model of prosecuting the prostitute user. He assumes, for example, that men who were prosecuted would be incarcerated.

My understanding is that in Sweden a fine on a sliding scale is imposed, with the money raised used to support women who wish to exit prostitution. There has been a gradual change in attitude and understanding.

For a deeper understanding of the subject and to learn about the economic reasons behind prostitution and the women who have experienced prostitution, I would suggest reading, for a start, Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution by Rachel Moran, and The Equality Illusion by Cat Banyard.

Anne Brown

LESLEY Riddoch’s professionalism and restraint are to be commended, no doubt, in her assessment of the appointment of arch-Unionist Neil Oliver to be head of the National Trust for Scotland (Why Neil Oliver is not the biggest problem for NTS, The National, January 4).

Some of us feel no such need to moderate our opinions about a man who hates the nationalist movement and the SNP, which he has made clear many times in his Sunday Times column and elsewhere.

Oliver is clearly one of those Scots who “love Scotland” but hate being Scottish, as it will always put them at a disadvantage – as they see it – compared to being English, but the establishment whose approval he craves has now rewarded his loyalty and he is, surely, striding off-screen towards that richly deserved knighthood for “Services to Keeping the Jocks in their Place”.

David Roche

PLEASE forgive me if my anger curls the corners of your pages!

The DVLA response to objections to the Butcher’s Apron being imposed on our new driving licences is that a government directive demands it to cultivate a sense of national pride! Are they unaware that, when I go abroad, I have to insist on my being Scottish, not English or British, to receive a really warm welcome?

I am Scottish first and European second and have committed no crime that I should be deprived of either status. The more Westminster tries to change that, the more determined I am to escape this tyranny.

L McGregor