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Voices need to be heard. The young and people supporting them must be recognised.

JUNE 04, 2019

For many years the government and local authorities have neglected the Youth; we’re expected to be docile, to not question their authority or our rights, and allow our futures to be decided for us or have them be destroyed. Subsequently the futures of many youth workers, current and aspiring are prone to be eliminated.

As a 15 yr old black girl, growing up in Enfield, in today’s society I have more recently become aware of how not only my race and gender define me in the eyes of others but also the area I live in. When meeting people from outside of London they almost immediately stereotype my area and describe it as ‘bad’ or having ‘high criminal activity’. Then again they’re not completely wrong; since April 27 there have been 27 fatalities from stabbing.

From 2017/18 alone there were 3 stop and searches for 1000 white people, compared with 29 stop and searches for every 1000 black people. It is evident these searches are based mainly on race and/or the area they’re in and how they are dressed. These stereotypical perceptions only make our generation feel more isolated and misunderstood. Reportedly there will be an increase in stop and searches; it is described as something that reinforces safety but actually reinforces fear, fear of being labelled, judged and isolated. It’s not as much about being in gangs as it is about feeling protected and acknowledged.  Some of the only people that understand this are youth workers: they get young people off the streets, offer feeling safe and someone they can confide in. Youth services offer a place where my generation can openly express themselves and learn more about who they are and what they want to do with their lives. Unfortunately with the huge cuts on youth services this is no longer an option for most and if nothing is done about it, it won’t be an option for anyone in the future.

On map there are only 9 youth/community centres in Enfield, which are susceptible to having less funding or possibly being shut down. Personally I do not attend a youth club, but I know people who do, due to their parents not always being home, needing advice or support through a tough time or just wanting a place to be themselves with friends. If we, as young people are actively aware about whom we are and the potential we have then would we want to throw it away for being on the streets.

It is often said by parents that we think we know everything, but we don’t. It’s true, no matter what we think we don’t know it all and that’s why we need people to nurture and guide us and sometimes it can’t always be our parents. We need a fresh perspective from someone we feel understands us. Youth workers can get through to us in ways our teachers or parents/guardians can’t.

It’s about time youth workers and people involved in the youth service don’t just speak up for us but themselves. They need to see their greatness and the positive change they make the way they see ours.

This blog was written by Orintha Lloyd as part of her work experience with Unite and clearly demonstrates that young people need Youth Workers to amplify their voices and support them to speak up for Youth Services. Unite has thousands of youth workers in membership in it's Youth and Play workers’ section and the best way to support young people in this fight is to join Unite and be part of our campaign for a statutory youth service, to secure ring-fenced funding and much needed government investment. 

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