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There really is No Time to Waste as APPG on Youth Affairs publishes report

JANUARY 13, 2020

Today saw the official release of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Youth Affairs  report from its Inquiry into Youth Work. The APPG, a cross-party group chaired by Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, was established in 1998 to raise the profile of issues that affect and concern young people, encourage dialogue between parliamentarians, young people and youth services, and encourage a co-ordinated and coherent approach to youth policy making.

The report ‘No Time To Waste’ calls for the Government to act now in order to secure essential services to keep young people safe and secure, and to transform their lives for the better. 

The APPG for Youth Affairs has called for political leadership ‘from the top’ with a Cabinet Minister held accountable to Parliament, and a strengthened national body for youth work to mobilise, train and support qualified youth workers, trainees and skilled volunteers.

The report identified cuts to youth work as being short-sighted and highlights the need for investment noting that "Investing in youth work provides long-term savings, notably for young people ‘at risk’ of crime or on the edge of care or below the threshold of statutory interventions for mental health."

The report goes on to highlight five key strands:

  • The loss of youth services has contributed to the rise in knife crime. The PM’s Summit made clear we cannot ‘arrest’ the issue away. Youth work provides a safe environment and a qualified youth worker to build trust and de-escalate conflict. 
  • For young people at greatest risk, the Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) report from Rotherham highlighted the role of youth workers trusted by young people to recognise the issues and advocate on their behalf.
  • For many families who cannot afford a hobby or leisure activity or a holiday, youth clubs and youth work activities are a game-changer.
  • For communities and society at large, youth workers ensure young people are equipped to learn and earn, form healthy relationships and make positive change in their communities.
  • For future employment, youth work develops so-called ‘soft skills’ that support resilience, self-esteem, social awareness, communication, critical thinking.

Launching the report, Chair of APPG Youth Affairs Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP said:

“The loss of funding and lack of political leadership means that youth work services have been eroded. Long term support for all young people sacrificed for short term interventions for a few. The Government’s own civil society strategy recognises ‘the transformational impact that youth services and trained youth workers can have’. It must act now. We need a coherent approach and investment to secure and sustain youth work.”

National Officer for Community and Youth Workers in Unite, Siobhan Endean noted the report and thanked the APPG for the work so far undertaken and the contribution that it has made in highlighting the importance of youth work to the lives of young people. She said " We need a statutory youth service, with dedicated ring fenced funding, provided by a core of fully qualified youth workers from the statutory and voluntary sector. Youth workers are central to providing essential services for all young people. Unite negotiates decent pay and conditions through the JNC pink book and every youth worker should be employed on these terms. There should be a national register for youth workers and one full time nationally qualified Youth worker working with trained and supported volunteers for every 400 young people. This requires a massive investment in youth services and a reversal of the cuts that have decimated services for the current generation of young people."

Over the last decade governments have failed to recognise the huge benefits to society and the lives of young people that youth work can make. Instead, they have dismantled the whole infrastructure of youth services to a point where services have almost disappeared from many communities in many areas of the UK. 

Unite urges the government to invest in a statutory youth service before further condemning young people to becoming a lonely, lost generation with nowhere to turn.

This timely report will be discussed at the national conference of Unite's community, youth and playworkers taking place in Lancaster this weekend.

Please watch the video below and see how youth work really works!


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