As our Is Youth Work Dead series continues, Kerry Jenkins gives us an update on the situation in Birmingham.
As the biggest local authority Birmingham is proud to say it still has a youth service! It is provided by a dedicated in house team, often working in partnership with voluntary youth sector organisations to deliver youth work programmes across the second city.
Birmingham youth service has faced its fair share of cuts, the biggest of these in 2011 when its budget was reduced by around 70% and now has a budget of just £1.6m. In 2009/10 we had 140 full time equivalents – we now have just 53 – delivering from 16 youth centres across Brum, the youngest city in Europe.
The youth service have year on year faced uncertain, stressful and challenging times but have continued to deliver programmes to Brum’s young people and to deliver youth work. It still provides open access youth work. It has had to be creative and it has had to find income. It brings in £1.4m and delivers on the Youth Employment Initiative, the Prevent agenda, and Sexual Health. It works in partnership with the voluntary sector. We are lucky to have a team of dedicated youth workers headed up by managers who understand what youth work is.
Birmingham is facing unprecedented financially challenging times and we know there is no good news for public services.
But Birmingham Youth Service does have good people fighting the fight, making the argument, and raising the profile of youth work. It is imperative that youth workers join the fight. Like a previous contributor said, youth workers have to be proactive about proving the value of their work. They must raise their profile, develop relationships with those making financial and other decisions about their future and they must amplify the voices of those fighting on their behalf.
Youth Work Works