Kayleigh Wainwright, Head of Membership and Youth Engagement at UK Youth
Following the EU Referendum young people from UK Youth Voice – our national board of 16-25 year olds who sit at the heart of everything UK Youth does – undertook an extensive research project with young people from across the UK to identify the issues affecting young people.
Our young representatives from UK Youth Voice worked with young people from our Nation Partners including Youth Cymru, Youth Scotland, Youth Action Northern Ireland and Youth Work Ireland. Together they consulted with thousands of fellow young people to develop the Youth Voice Manifesto.
Through this project we found that young people were extremely passionate about strengthening and protecting their local youth group and allowing all young people to access high quality, appropriate youth provision in their local community.
Many of these young people on UK Youth Voice and in our wider network visit their local youth organisation every week. They may have joined to meet new friends or use the club’s facilities but what they gained was so much more. They’ve had the opportunity to grow and learn, developing the skills they need to overcome barriers, gain independence and reach their potential.
Our wider research found that last year 88% of the young people who participated in a UK Youth’s programme at their local youth service reported improved life skills. These skills included becoming more motivated, resilient and confident, as well building their CV writing expertise, learning how to code or manage their finances and gaining crucial job searching abilities.
Through our network of thousands of youth organisations across the UK, reaching over 840,000 young people, we know the value of youth services. It’s time to share this knowledge with new audiences and advocate to strengthen and protect youth services so many more young people can have the same opportunities as the young people in our network.
Our UK Youth Voice young representatives are already doing this. Over the last couple of months, they have presented the Youth Voice Manifesto to the Prime Minister at No. 10, and a variety of MPs and key opinion formers at party conferences and other events.
Let’s follow their lead and use NYA’s Youth Work Week to raise awareness of the tremendous value of the youth sector.