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OnSide Youth Zones welcome the Labour Party’s commitment to youth work through their “youth service guarantee” and new “youth services fund”. Young people spend nearly 85% of their waking hours outside school, yet youth services have been chronically underfunded over the last decade. The fact that both the government and opposition parties are calling for this trend to reversed is a very positive step.
We believe that local authorities are a key player in helping convene partnerships for delivering youth services. OnSide Youth Zones are built on a partnership model between local authorities, the community, young people and the private sector. Moves to formally strengthen such partnerships through a local “youth services guarantee” will help ensure that all young people have somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to.
At OnSide we believe that youth work is a transformative tool in society, empowering young people to believe in themselves and their future. Fundamentally, it aids social mobility and gives young people the opportunity to realise their talent and potential. Accessible and inclusive youth centres – such as OnSide Youth Zones – provide the canvas on which youth work can take place, attracting and supporting young people from a range of backgrounds through very important formative years.
We therefore support the need for a dedicated youth minister at the heart of government to champion youth work, and we welcome Labour’s proposals for training, recruitment and an increase in qualified, professional youth workers.