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In Celebration of Youth Work #YouthWorkMatters

In Celebration of Youth Work #YouthWorkMatters

Tash Bright No Comment

By Gail Gibbons, Sheffield Futures Chief Executive Officer

Last month, Lloyd Russell-Moyle – MP for Brighton Kemptown, introduced a private members bill to Parliament which aims to impose a duty on local authorities to provide a minimum level of youth services. At the same time, the All Parliamentary Group for Youth Affairs, launched an inquiry on the role and sufficiency of youth work.

The response from statutory and voluntary organisations working with young people has been wide-ranging and heartfelt.

Research shows that between 2010 and 2018 more than 600 youth centres have been lost from local communities and that funding for youth work has fallen by 60% during the same time period.

The number of degree level youth work courses has fallen to their lowest level in a decade, and youth work training budgets have shrunk because of the priority towards training of related professions – particularly social work.

The impact of sustained under-funding has had a devastating effect on both the youth work profession, and on young people themselves – especially the most disadvantaged.

Since 2010, youth work has to all intents and purposes dropped off the national policy agenda. Responsibility has moved from the Department for Education – first to the Cabinet Office, and now to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – divorcing youth work from the wider young people’s policy agenda – including policy for vulnerable groups.

The government has also dropped its commitment to a three year stand-alone youth policy statement, and youth work is rarely, if ever, mentioned in government announcements or communications.

Meanwhile, the government has invested heavily in a range of new young people’s enrichment initiatives – the most high profile being the National Citizen Service (NCS) and the #IWill young people’s social action (volunteering) campaign. Whilst these initiatives undoubtedly enrich young people’s lives through building skills and confidence – as delivery partners for both initiatives, Sheffield Futures can vouch for that – they can in no way replace youth work; and there is evidence to suggest that not enough disadvantaged young people are being reached through these programmes.

Sheffield Future’s approach to work with young people is based on core youth work principles wherever possible. Our approach is relationship based – recognising the need to build up trust with young people over a sustained period of time; it is strengths based – identifying young people’s assets and building on them; it is flexible – working with young people at their own pace which is not always linear; it is co-produced with young people – young people usually have the solutions; and it utilises enrichment activities as a means of engagement.

Good quality youth work is more necessary now than ever before. In these times of austerity, young people are facing unprecedented challenges in the navigation of their daily lives.

In recent years, we have seen the growth in serious youth violence; risk of exploitation; and the rise in young people’s mental health and emotional well-being problems.

We have also seen the struggle for many young people to achieve at school and to gain meaningful employment, and to engage in positive activities outside formal education settings. Young people themselves tell us about the daily pressures they feel under.

A youth workforce that is skilled and equipped to engage and support young people is in high demand. Increasingly, local authorities, schools, the police and health services are recognising the unique skillset youth workers bring to the table in addressing some of the most difficult and complex societal challenges. It is ironic then that funding to develop and sustain the workforce is on the decline.

With this in mind, Sheffield Futures is committed to celebrating youth work and everything it brings.

We firmly believe that both open access youth work, at youth clubs, and targeted support using a youth work model, are essential pieces of a partnership approach to supporting young people towards a better future.

Our young people led campaign over the coming months is all about the celebration of youth work and showing what it can offer. We invite you to show your support by….

  • Sharing the following message on social media: Since 2010, funding to vital youth services has been cut, with 600+ youth centres closed. This is having a devastating effect on disadvantaged young people. At @SheffFutures we want to celebrate youth work and all of its fantastic achievements. See: www.sheffieldfutures.org.uk/in-celebration-of-youth-work
  • Running a fundraiser to help Sheffield Futures to continue delivering quality youth work to young people in Sheffield city region. Every penny you raise will help Sheffield Futures to transform lives and create positive futures.
  • Pledging to be a Sheffield Futures Ambassador and raising awareness of their work by making key introductions, sharing their messages, attending events and more.

Contact us, email: marketing@sheffieldfutures.org.uk or call: 0114 201 8647

 


The theme for this year’s International Youth Day is ‘SAFE SPACES’ something that Sheffield Futures knows all about. For thousands of young people, our youth clubs are a safe space to go, take part in recreational activities, meet and make new friends and learn the skills they need to succeed in life.

This month we are using our sessions in youth clubs to find out what makes a safe space, why young people feel that the youth clubs are a safe space and how they could be improved to be more inclusive, accessible and welcoming.

This case study is part of our new campaign: In Celebration of Youth Work, where celebrating and demonstrating the value of youth work within our communities.

#YouthWorkMatters

How you can help

Our charity is dedicated to helping Sheffield's young people to reach their full potential and achieve the best out of life, whatever their starting point. To help us to do more to support young people and communities we need your help. Just remember, every penny you donate will make a difference.