It’s high time this government acted to save vitally-needed youth services

I was very proud, at our party’s Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, to move a motion calling for revitalised and refunded youth services (things such as youth clubs, outdoor education, youth advice/information and so on) and supported the amendment to the motion which called for the funding of these services to be placed onto a statutory footing.

I was very proud of our party when the motion (as amended) was given unanimous support by Conference.
This helped to reinforce previous party youth policy which, in large part, is thanks to the work of my friend and colleague Linda Jack who has many, many years of experience in the youth and youth work sector.

As this is national Youth Work Week, I renew our call for the government to stop punishing young people for being young people and to follow our lead and ensure these vitally-needed youth services do see their funding placed on a statutory footing, to give both those running them and those who use them the security of knowing the threat of the axe from local councils has been removed.

I talked in my speech at Conference about how many (mostly Conservative-run) local authorities up and down the country have drastically reduced or cut youth services.

When these services are cut it is, more often than not, young people from the least well off and most vulnerable families that lose out.

Our leader Tim Farron and our party as a whole have made sticking up for these families a key part of his and our platform.

He’s shown that on a number of fronts, most recently and notably acting to try and put a stop to the Tories disgraceful plans to cut tax credits which, if allowed to proceed, would again hit many low-income households.

Youth workers up and down the country do a fantastic job which deserves all of our respect, but many increasingly feel demoralised at this government’s apparent indifference to their role in inspiring young people, in helping them when they need guidance and support and, in some cases, being the only people young people can turn to for help.

We need an urgent mapping of youth services across the country to take place, to see where there are gaps in provision, and we need to ensure there’s ongoing support and professional development for youth workers.

We also need to ensure there’s no barriers to these services for specific groups, including LGBT+ young people, BAME young people, those seeking to access mental health provision for children and young people, and in terms of socio-economic divides.

To help ensure youth services and youth work remain high on the agenda for our young people, myself, Linda Jack, and Jack Davies of Liberal Youth recently founded Lib Dem Friends of Youth Services (you can find us on Twitter at @LDFOYS) to campaign on these important matters and we’ve now formed an executive of fantastic people to help us do so.

If you’d like to get involved please do contact us on Twitter or me individually via @HulbertMathew or e-mail me: [email protected]

I’d like to end, again as part of this Youth Work Week, by paying tribute to youth workers across the land for the amazing job they do.

I pledge to always be their champion…in our party and beyond.

* Mathew Hulbert is a parish Councillor in Leicestershire.

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  • I would hope that the omission of disabled people from the list of groups that need to be included is an oversight. It is critical that disabled people have the opportunity and support to integrate at a time and place of their choosing. Quite often siblings attend youth events which are inaccessible and these need to be resolved.

    If young people experience diversity it paves the way to a more open and tolerant society as young people develop an understanding and empathy with their disabled peers.

    We should be aware that in some situations integration may not be the best option and that there needs to be a range of options and opportunities for young disabled people to choose. The use of personal budgets/direct payments has led to some significant advances in this regard – but have they gone far enough? What else needs doing to give young disabled people the choice and control over what youth services they use at a time and place of their choosing?

  • nigel hunter 5th Nov '15 - 10:31am

    I have been a youth worker in Bradford. It has always been a short of money area until something bad happens. Then it comes out of the closet because the media has got hold of a story, then money is ploughed back, then it dies down and is back under the carpet. “Children should be seen an not heard” is still around. Today ,with pressures all around them, stress for example. Guidance of how to live in a rapidly changing world is needed activities are needed for them to burn up there pent up hormones to prevent criminal activities, a whole host of problems. We learn from this period of life. To put resources into this sphere can reduce the cost of future problems in society.

  • Well done, Matthew. It was good to meet you in Bournemouth, and I was very pleased to vote for your motion. Here in Tory-run Warwickshire, youth services have been cut to the bone. In a few areas they are struggling on due to the heroic efforts of local volunteers and fund-raising, but as the chair of a local charity doing just that in Kenilworth I can confirm that it’s not easy! Putting youth services on to a statutory footing would be an important first step to getting funding re-directed back into this vital work.

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