Political consensus for the sake of children and young people
Whatever the politics, Unite believes that children and young people must have access to the services that enable them to become successful and rounded adults, and these services must be sufficiently resourced and delivered by qualified practitioners.
A statutory youth service
Unite believes that there must be a new national legislative and political commitment to creating a quality universal service for young people. This service should be protected in statute by dedicated ring fenced funding and should be universally available to all young people. Participation in youth services should be voluntary on the part of young people but the opportunity to participate should be open to all those who wish to take it up.
This service should be provided by a core of JNC qualified workers, working with trained and supported volunteers, working to professional standards.
Key steps need to be taken to ensure the future sustainability and development of youth services for this and future generations of young people, and the key elements required in a youth service strategy.
Unite believes that professionally qualified youth workers should be registered, as other sections of the children and young people’s workforce. Without this regulation, anybody can claim they are a ‘youth worker’ and this is putting children and young people at risk. It is an imperative that a legally protected title should be introduced and only available to those with approved qualifications and experience. Opportunity should also be made available for youth support workers and voluntary youth workers to become participants in the scheme at an appropriate level.
Unite believes that there is the need for a Youth Service Strategy which outlines how a well-funded universal youth service sets young people on the path to success, how this would represent real value for money and how this could and should be sustained.
A child’s right to play
Unite firmly believes that it is a child’s right to play; and part of this right should be to experience good quality, staffed, local play provision that is universally available and free at the point of access.
Unite believes that children’s play is enriched by qualified, skilled playworkers, trained to put children’s play needs at the centre of their work, enhancing the range and quality of play experiences for all children. Children of all ages need appropriately trained staff in a variety of settings they may attend, such as adventure playgrounds, play centres, holiday play schemes, after-school play clubs, breakfast play clubs, toy libraries, play buses and play ranger services. This provision should put children’s play rights and needs as the first priority and be based on the Playwork Principles.
Unite believes that that there is the need for a government wide Playwork Strategy that outlines how a well-funded universal play service puts children’s play rights and needs at the centre of what it does and recognises the important role of the playworker as that of any skilled professional working with children. This role should be respected and rewarded accordingly and we believe that there is a continued need for funded, trained and skilled playworkers to facilitate time and space for play where children and young people can have rich and varied experiences.
Whatever the politics
Government must ensure that all children and young people have access to services that support their personal and social development and wellbeing, and that these services must be sufficiently resourced and delivered by qualified practitioners. With our vision the new government has a choice, recognise the role professional youth and play workers play in young people lives and invest for the future or risk losing these services for generations to come.