Sajid Javid visiting an Onside Youth Zone in May 2019
The IYW welcomes the Government’s announcement in this year’s Spending Round, notionally investing in young people and Youth & Community work. Truly, it is heartening that the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, is recognising the ways that our work “improves social justice” and “changes lives for the better”. The explicit reference to the development of both new and old youth centres is also very exciting but begs the question – will there be any Youth Workers available to work in them? The sector will no doubt be grateful for capital funding, but we are still desperate for the revenue funding that would enable Youth Work delivery that avoids having shiny yet empty buildings.
Lessons must too be learnt from the myplace programme, and the Onside Youth Zone model of geographically centralising resources. After years of underinvestment, local neighbourhood-based provision and rural spaces must be prioritised above a programme of new builds that may actually take provision away from those who are most geographically marginalised.
Youth & Community Work has its strength in working alongside local communities, building relationships and responding to the needs and interests of young people. The same young people, who even prior to cuts to public transport subsidies, struggle to access centralised services for a wide variety of reasons and need localised provision. This is especially true for young people living in rural areas.
We hope the proposals for a new ‘Youth Investment Fund’ mentioned by the Chancellor in his speech will explore how monies can reach local communities, using devolved decision-making processes where possible to ensure the voices of existing, needy and remote youth spaces are heard as clearly as others’. As lessons must be learnt from previous capital investment programmes, we also hope that learning gathered from the current DCMS/National Lottery Youth Investment Fund is not lost in defining and deciding how best any further monies are invested in the sector. In particular, we would not wish to see the valuable contribution made by the voluntary sector to keep youth work and youth services afloat during the years of austerity and local authority cut-backs ignored.
As always, the Institute for Youth Work will be supportive to the Government in the development of new funding streams intended for the betterment of young lives.