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Sarah Jones MP welcomed those present, saying: “It’s really tough being young, we are not giving young people the support that they need.
“Cuts to youth services, cuts to mental health support, bad housing, poverty, austerity – they all make life harder for young people.
“We are all here today to talk about what we can do to fix some of their problems because we owe it to them.”
David Lammy MP said: “This issue is so important, I put it above politics. We should be working towards a place where all political parties understand that this is a necessity.”
She told the audience, which consisted of over 100 young people, youth workers, third sector employees and politicians: “When I joined OnSide I was really struggling at school, I was struggling to find a focus, I was on the SEN spectrum and I got lost in the system.
“I was picked up by one of the OnSide outreach workers and he helped me get my focus.
“I eventually became an intern for OnSide and now I’m working at the first-ever Youth Zone in London, Future in Barking and Dagenham. OnSide has truly saved my life.”
Leigh Middleton said: “In the last 10 years we’ve lost £1bn of public money going into young people and youth services. We’ve lost 14,000 youth work posts across the country and we reckon about 75% of those we have don’t have the correct qualifications and training you’d expect them to have to support young people.
“OnSide buck that trend, they’re working with us to train their staff in their Youth Zones to make sure they can provide the best possible service.”