The headline for youth workers from within the new Civil Society Strategy seems to be that the statutory guidance on provision of youth services will be reviewed and that the government “recognises the transformational impact that youth services and trained youth workers can have”. The fact that youth work even features in a government Civil Society Strategy (notably not a dedicated Youth Strategy) is lauded by some as a victory. Others seem to be recognising that this does not amount to the necessary support for youth work that the profession wishes to see.
We know through our own discussions with membership at IYW conference that priorities still include:
- Funding for open access youth work. The opening statement on youth services is that “The public funding of open access youth services has always been the responsibility of local authorities” – other political parties appear to disagree that this has to be the case. Earlier this month the LGA suggested an alternative, recognising the need for integrated services for young people throughout their adolescence, all year round.
- Quality, professional youth work provision. We would have liked to have seen ideological support for the youth workerregistration project to promote quality and safety in the workforce.
- For Youth Work to sit in the Department for Education and be supported by a dedicated Youth Minister. As set out as a priority in the IYW’s strategic plan.
- Young People’s own priorities. The Make Your Mark consultation heard from close to one million young people in 2017. They are still asking for votes at 16, a curriculum for life and cheaper transport – all things that could feature in a Civil Society Strategy but don’t.
We will continue to support Government to be ambitious for youth work and ambitious for young people, backed up by the weight of the collective understanding of our membership towards a place where all young people have access to high quality youth work provision.
The strategy is available online here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/civil-society-strategy-building-a-future-that-works-for-everyone