Blog: Young people’s response to Government’s consultation on statutory guidance for youth services

Blog: Young people’s response to Government’s consultation on statutory guidance for youth services

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The Government is calling for evidence from young people, local authorities and voluntary and community providers of local youth services to inform its revision of the statutory guidance on delivering youth services.

In this blog Emma Hinchliffe, our young people’s involvement lead, talks about the key themes raised in response to the consultation by young people in the Sheffield Young Advisors and the Sheffield Youth Cabinet.

The Sheffield Young Advisors are consultants who advise organisations on ensuring youth voice is central to their work and the Sheffield Youth Cabinet represent the voice of young people 11-18 across Sheffield.

In order to invite the views of young people, the government has provided a questionnaire for young people providing options for them to respond to. Within this, the government asked young people what they felt should be in the guidance to make sure it’s ‘useful’.

Our young people felt overwhelmingly that the government should include a statutory minimum requirement that young people should be able to access youth services, including youth groups offering a wide range of activities that are engaging for the young people in the area.

Within this, detached youth work, where young people are engaged by highly skilled youth workers on the streets and are signposted to youth provision was a key requirement. And importantly, in order to shape recommendations it was felt young people should be continually consulted to ensure the guidance is representative of young people’s voice in the regions so that youth work offers meaningful, inclusive, engaging and accessible youth work tailored for those young people.

Our young people felt that the guidance should be more agile and be reviewed ongoing to change in line with national and regional priorities to confront and tackle the major issues of the day for example, mental health, criminal exploitation and associated knife crime. Our young people went further to say that in the case of identified major issues in a particular area, that detailed preventative strategies be included in the guidance to keep young people safe.

When asked about the local council’s role in shaping the services provided for young people, all felt young people should be consulted throughout the planning, delivery and review process to ensure youth voice is central. And that it was important for those undertaking this to go the extra mile to ensure all young people in a locality are represented. Engaging with schools, colleges and education providers, youth clubs, youth voice groups and other community spaces accessed by young people for instance.

Peer to peer support and consultation were also suggested as ways to reach and represent harder to reach young people for example, those who have disengaged from society as a result of criminal exploitation, chaotic lifestyles or school bullying and in fact, are the ones who can benefit most from youth work.

The goals that young people felt were important to them when asked were education, employment, relationships, being healthy physically and mentally, a good quality of life and standard of living. They also acknowledged that everyone’s goals would be different but that education and youth work are essential social levellers.

In order to ensure these goals were achieved, they felt the focus should be:
· Quality, professional support for young people who are not in university but are post 18 and not in education or work
· Professional careers advice and help
· Peer to peer support to engage hard to reach young people
· Accessible professional youth services that present opportunities and activities for young people to get involved in what they are passionate about

Accessibility and awareness of the guidance was also highlighted as an area required to improve so that young people understand how the government is meeting young people’s human rights ‘to express an opinion on any matter affecting them and to have that opinion taken into account’ and can therefore justifiably hold the government to account.

Fozia Sultana, a Sheffield Young Advisor, said: “When it comes to guidance it’s important to have transparency and give all options and possible outcomes to young people. And young people need to feel as if they have more power and control rather than the information being enforced upon them and them feeling helpless as a result.”

In summary, the young people called for peer to peer support that goes the extra mile to meet the hardest to reach young people. They called for putting young people at the centre of the guidance by accurately representing the voice of young people at a regional level and respecting young people’s human rights through accessibility of the guidance.

We urge other young people to come forward and have their say before 11:45pm on 1 December 2019.

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