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Speaking in the General Debate on Youth Services
Wednesday 24th July 2019
Youth work is a transformative tool in society, aiding social mobility and giving young people somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to. Accessible and inclusive youth centres – such as OnSide Youth Zones – provide the canvas on which youth work can take place, attracting and retaining young people from a range of backgrounds.
It is not the only tool to be used. But equally it’s power to intervene early in young people’s lives, to uncover complex social issues and to work with that young person, their family, peer group and other local agencies, cannot be ignored or underfunded any longer by central government.
Nearly 85% of young people’s time is spent outside of school[i], and much of their learning takes place outside of the classroom. Children’s extra-curricular experience, and the quality of the activities on offer in their communities, are therefore crucial to their development from early years right up to adulthood.
Yet nationally youth work as a profession is in decline. According to the Local Government Association, councils in England and wales have had to reduce spending on local youth services from £652 million in 2010/11 to £352 million in 2017/18 as a result of government funding cuts[ii].Over 600 youth centres have closed since 2012. During that time an estimated 1,600 youth work jobs have been lost[iii]. In London alone, since 2012 cuts have removed 46 per cent of funding from London council youth services.[iv]
OnSide Youth Zones are committed to reversing these trends. Youth Zones are based on a voluntary relationship with young people where informal education can be hugely powerful; through providing the safe space in a high-quality aspirational environment, support and opportunities for young people to learn through activities, informal relationships, friendship and association.
Kevin Garvey | Senior Public Affairs and Policy Advisor