Youth Work Week 2019 blog: Young people treated fairly and equally 

Youth Work Week 2019 blog: Young people treated fairly and equally 

Sadie White No Comment

Simon is a Youth Work Team Leader at Sheffield Futures. As part of Simon’s role, he delivers Youth Sheffield in the North of the city. Youth Sheffield is Sheffield’s city wide youth service. Youth Sheffield provides safe spaces where young people can feel comfortable and confident and take part in enriching activities, keeping them safe and supported to make the most of their lives. For today’s #YWW19 theme, Simon talks about how Sheffield Futures works to ensure young people in Sheffield are treated fairly and equally.

I’m a professional youth worker and have been involved in youth work for the last 20 years. My role within Youth Sheffield is to oversee all the youth clubs and youth workers in the North of Sheffield.

To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt, ‘If we can’t build a future for our youth, we must build our youth for the future.’ I believe that good quality, properly funded youth work can fulfil this function and as a society we owe it to young people to give them the best life chances.

Young people in Sheffield are starting from a very unfair and unequal position and unfortunately, the data shows how this trend is growing. To provide a flavour, in line with national trends, the most up-to-date data (August 2014) shows an increase in child poverty, with 24.7% of children recorded as living in poverty in Sheffield. That’s nearly a quarter of children. However there’s growing concern about increased differences in Sheffield between different parts of the city. In Ecclesall ward, 3.3% of children were living in poverty, whilst in Firth Park the figure was 14 times higher at 42.9% of children. The report suggests that there are clearly lots of causes of child poverty however that it’s likely the national welfare reforms are a significant driver of changes seen in levels of child poverty. Specifically the lower benefit cap that took effect in 2017 and has taken the number of households in Sheffield affected by the cap from 113 to an estimated 900 households. In total, those households contain 3,446 children. (Data taken from State of Sheffield Report 2017)

So, the playing field is far from equal yet Article 2 of the UN Convention rights of a child states that “No child should be treated unfairly on any basis”. This clearly sets out that no matter who you are, where you come from or your background you shouldn’t be treated unfairly because of this. Yet at some point in all our lives we have been treated unfairly or not as an equal to others based on our backgrounds, where we live as a result of perceived abilities in life or for other reasons.

Youth work readdresses this balance in that through coming into a youth work setting, young people are plugged into a range of support, advice and guidance as well as inspiring enrichment activities that act as a safety net and go some way to restore a sense of fair and equal treatment by society. In this setting they are exposed to positive role models. Our youth workers across the city are providing quality youth provision in safe and welcoming environments for young people. They treat all young people fairly and equally regardless of their post code, colour, creed, religious or political views or finances.  Through Youth Sheffield, we endeavour to put young people first and foremost, providing a safe and inspiring space where they are treated fairly and equally and are fully supported to make the best of their lives.

If you or a young person you know would benefit from getting involved in any of the initiatives mentioned here and would benefit from support please reach out to Sheffield Futures. Tel 0114 2012800 or [email protected]

Find out more about your community youth club here

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.