Sue Shanks, a prominent figure in youth work across the years and now co-chair of the Green Party in Brighton, has blogged her deep concern about the developing crisis in the authority.
The cuts to youth services in Brighton and Hove just announced will mean the end of the local authority youth service and a loss of financial support for several voluntary youth projects. As lead member for children’s services in the last administration I was proud that, under the Greens, we had protected this important service.
I have worked as a youth worker, youth work manager and latterly a tutor on university qualifying courses for youth and community workers. I have published articles and a book on youth work (as Sue Robertson) and I am still involved in the field as a trustee of youth organisations and an external examiner.
All around the country, local authorities are cutting youth services as they are ‘non statutory.’ Although the local authority is supposed to provide some services, there is nothing laid down as to ‘how much.’
Youth work is a vital service to young people. It provides space for young people, somewhere to go, a friendly adult to build a relationship with, someone to talk to. Plus, it provides activities – something to do. Most of this will be accessible precisely to those who can’t take ‘something to do’ for granted; they may not have the family income to access it.
This cut is being made at the worst possible time. Young people are expected to work hard at school, are put under immense pressure and as we know, many end up with mental health issues. Youth work can be a vital lifeline for them. As it is a voluntary service that young people can choose to engage with, they are often more likely to seek help. Youth work provides a safe space for young people; something we all surely deserve.
Joining a youth club, activity or taking part in discussion groups or activities helps young people to make friends and have good relationships with their peers and adults, a vital part of growing up. Yet again young people in their teenage years and those who work with them are losing resources. Although it may be easier to get protests going about ‘cuter’ causes, we must defend this service.
Read the blog in full at Cuts to Youth Services