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One size does not fit all – #YouthWorkWeek

One size does not fit all – #YouthWorkWeek

Tash Bright No Comment

Sheffield Futures has developed a model to ensure the youth work skill set is not lost despite the current climate of cuts to youth services. The recent Unison report ‘The Damage’ shows how cuts to youth services are damaging young people’s lives. In Sheffield, we are determined that this will not be the case.

It’s well known that there have been many cuts to youth services, with 350 youth centres closed nationally since 2012.

A teenage attendee at Woodthorpe Youth Club said: “Youth work is so important to us because our youth workers are always there for us even when we don’t deserve it, and won’t ever give up on us even though it feels sometimes like everybody else has.”

In Sheffield over the last six years, youth clubs have closed and opening hours and funding for activities have been reduced. The need for youth work does not reduce with funding cuts though. Youth workers support teenagers with everything from health, to employment, to citizenship and community involvement. The relationships that young people form with youth workers are invaluable, support is tailored and responsive to change in need. However, whilst youth work engagement and support skills are in high demand for one to one work with vulnerable young people, funding for traditional youth work services is reducing – leaving a skills gap.

Jon Boagey, National Youth Agency said: “In recent years youth work organisations like Sheffield Futures have responded to the pressing needs of the most vulnerable young people. Investment has shifted in this direction but we also need to fund programmes that support young people before their needs become acute.  Sheffield Futures has managed to continue supporting open access youth work and hopefully resources will be available to do this in the future.”  

This Youth Work Week, award-winning youth charity Sheffield Futures is celebrating the skilled work force that is often described as a lifeline for young people. All qualified youth workers have been given additional training so that they can deliver much-needed one to one support, assessing and supporting vulnerable young people at risk of poor life chances.. This flexible delivery ensures that young people have workers who delivers open access youth work in clubs as well as supporting them on a one-to-one basis through a case work approach. In Sheffield, youth workers are part of multi-agency youth support teams.

Louise Ellison, Community Youth Teams Manager at Sheffield Futures said: “The city of Sheffield is committed to ensuring that youth work skills and youth services are not lost. The City Council contracts Sheffield Futures to run youth services including regular youth clubs. Sheffield Hallam University deliver the Youth and Community Work degree, showing that in our city, there is both a need and people wanting to deliver

Sheffield has developed a flexible approach to youth work, developed to the individual and community need. For instance, the ‘curriculum’ delivered at Sheffield Futures youth clubs, is developed to meet the needs of the community and young people who attend. Youth work takes many forms in the city, and includes group work, one-to-one sessions, open access youth clubs and detached work, on the streets where young people are. Services are delivered by multiple agencies, including specialist workers who help young people to think about their future and take steps towards education, employment and training.

Ellie McMahon, Youth Worker at Sheffield Futures said: “I think youth work is so important because the transition from childhood to adulthood is one of the most difficult and confusing times in a lifetime, and youth work provides a safe and supportive environment for young people to find who they are and get answers to things they otherwise would not ask. It also teaches things that school doesn’t, and does so in a completely non-judgemental and inclusive way.”

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.