Help us to put the youth sector on the map

The National Youth Sector Census

Watch our short explainer video

Take the Census Quiz

The Census Quiz

The National Youth Sector Census provides a dashboard of data to help inform decisions about commissioning, funding and delivering youth work. As well as highlighting gaps in provision it will also highlight opportunities for benchmarking, partnership working and gaps in provision. Take the Youth Sector Quiz to see how well you know your region’s youth work offer.

Who is the Census for?

The National Youth Sector Census is a survey of all youth sector provision across England. It aims to capture an accurate picture of youth services and out of school activities.  

If you’re delivering support to young people, places where they can have fun, with the support of a youth worker and volunteers who advise, guide and create opportunities for young people then you should be included.   

The National Youth Agency has been funded by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport to deliver the Census and analyse the data.

How can the Census help you?

The data which the Census will provide will not only help us to influence decisions about funding at a national level, but it will also help you to show where there is an identified need in your area to support applications for funding. 

The Census will also help you to see what other services are being provided in your region and where there are opportunities for partnership working; as well as highlighting best practice and innovation around the country. 

By completing the Census you will also be more visible to commissioners and partners who could be interested in funding your services, or working with you. 

Why do we need the Census?

We launched the Census two years ago to provide a clearer picture of where youth work is taking place and how it is funded.  

Our latest report shows that with over a decade of cuts to local authority funding, fewer services are being offered directly by councils, with the voluntary and charity sector disproportionately delivering youth work.  

Despite growing recognition of the value of youth work, notably the sector achieving key worker status during the pandemic, there is no consensus on what constitutes a sufficient level of provision. 

The Census data will also help us to collectively present a case for further investment in youth work. 

Click below to hear from two organisations on why they chose to complete the National Youth Sector Census

Diane Law, Youth Co-ordinator says: “The National Youth Work Census is important because it helps us to show that there is a need for our services.” 

Read Highfield Community Association’s story

What Highfield Community Association does well is building trusted relationships with its community, reckons youth co-ordinator Diane Law. 

The association is based in Keighley, West Yorkshire, and many of the young people who go there are facing up to the challenge presented by the cultural and generational differences of a second or third generation immigrant family adapting to today’s society. 

“We always have to think of our young people’s needs,” Diane says. “We know that there is definitely a demand in the area for our activities, and what we do fills a huge gap.” 

In the last year over 300 young people between 11 and 13 have come through their doors.  

She adds: “We know that the younger children (five -14) love coming to us for the Play Rangers Project, which is one of our longest-running projects. 

“It runs after school and during holidays and helps children play, express, build skills, and stay away from petty crime and vandalism. 

“It’s because we have a trusted relationship in the community that we are able to bring the older children through to the Excel Youth Project, for the 14 and overs. This provides fun activities, somewhere they feel safe and can learn new skills, as well as get support with education and employment. 

“They all love cooking, and we have a kitchen here where they can make themselves a little snack or learn how to cook for themselves when they go home. We’ve also done archery, pinhole photography, henna and makeup, and young leadership. 

“In everything we do such as craft and games we aim to give them positive influences which will help them improve their lives and move away from drugs, anti-social behaviour, and become independent positive individuals. 

“We also believe that young people should have a voice and influence, so actively encourage them to take a lead in the design of the programme of activities.” 

Finding funding is ”almost like a fulltime job” and this, Diane says, is what makes the NYA Census important.  

“The National Youth Work Census is important because it helps us to show that there is a need for our services. 

“The value of youth work and its impact isn’t always recognised like teaching – you can know the gaps and needs, but not always demonstrate them.  

“Play Rangers has been funded by BBC Children In Need, and the Excel Youth Project has been funded by The National Lottery Reaching Communities, so I’m now working on getting them both renewed.  

“For me one of the greatest rewards is when I see young people growing up through the programmes, and even going on to become volunteers. Highfield now has four such volunteers, one of whom now has a work placement with the club.” 

Steph Dickinson, Managing Director says: “The Census is really important to get a realistic and accurate picture of the changing needs of young people.”

Read Pie Factory’s story

The chance to celebrate youth work via the Census is welcomed by Steph Dickinson, MD of Pie Factory Music, based in Ramsgate, East Kent.  

Pie Factory Music provides youth work, music and creative arts projects, pastoral care and counselling for young people and helps them work with the wider community. 

“We know what can be achieved when it’s properly funded,” Steph said. “And the Census is an ideal opportunity to illustrate what we do. We know that what we do has an impact – we’ve been going for just over 20 years and have supported over 50,000 young people down the years.   

She says: “The Census is really important to get a realistic and accurate picture of the changing needs of young people. Things change so fast today, and the way young people like to be communicated with is one of those things, including using social media. We need to know what they want, otherwise we will be providing things that don’t matter to them.  

“I would urge other organisations to take part in the Census. It’s really important to get in front of the decision makers and get accurate information to them.” 

Originally a music organisation, Pie Factory Music’s work has grown to meet the needs of young people. The organisation delivers several strands of support: 

  • Creative music: instrument use, singing and music and a sound engineer on hand in studio for practice, 1-2-1 tutoring, song-writing guidance, jamming sessions and recording opportunities. Music development and sessions for girls and gender non-conforming 13 – 19-year-olds. 
  • Emerging Artists: Pie Factory Music’s year-long professional development programme that provides a route for young musicians on the career path and artists looking to kick-start their music careers. It matches young musicians with industry professionals, and some have gone on to work with Netflix. In 2021, a group of the young musicians launched a youth record label, ‘Wantsum Music?’ releasing singles from local artists, and creating a community of support. 
  • Pastoral care: this has grown significantly since Covid with an emphasis on diversity 
  • A food bank: providing essential items. The scheme is youth-led, are all the organisation’s programmes.  
  • Free face-to-face and online counselling sessions: for 13 – 18-year-olds in East Kent. 
  • Open Arms – a safe space for unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugees aged 13 – 21 years to play, make and create 

Support for the community: this provides a bridge between young people and wider networks. Activities also include a weekly session for unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugees. Steph said: “Throughout the Covid19 pandemic, our young people produced and delivered care packages and cards to other young people and care homes across Thanet.”  

Steph adds: “It’s our duty at Pie to be here for every and any young person in and coming to East Kent.  We’ve also partnered with local organisations to offer them new, exciting experiences such as Discovery Planet‘s science-inspired workshops.” 

“It’s thanks to our incredible community who crowdfunded for us that we are able to provide our counselling service.  

How do I complete the Census?

The Census is located on the new Youth Work One website which will be the ‘go to’ platform for best practice resources, training, events and funding opportunities for the youth sector. 

You need to register on Youth Work One before completing the Census.  

The Census should take no longer than 15-20 minutes to complete if you have all your details to hand. 

Checklist for completing the Census: 

  • Contact details 
  • Charity Commission Register Number (if applicable) 
  • Companies House Number (if applicable) 
  • Locations where the organisation operates, along with days of operation in each location 
  • Waiting list length (in months) 
  • Sources of income e.g. charitable donations, sponsorship, national government grant funding etc. 
  • Budget for this financial year 
  • Expenditure for last financial year 
  • Length of time your reserves would allow normal operation for 
  • Number of full time and part time employees, and their youth work qualification levels 
  • Number of volunteers, and their youth work qualification levels 


We have also drafted some simple ‘How to’ guidelines to help you register on Youth Work One, click here to access.

Help spread the word 

We need your help to ensure that everyone who delivers youth work gets involved with making this year’s Census as comprehensive as possible. 

You can show that you have completed the Census with your friends and colleagues by posting the ‘I’ve completed the Census badge’ on your social media headers or profile pictures. 

You can also share the ‘We completed the National Youth Work Census’ post on your social media channels – it might just encourage a colleague working in the sector to follow suit. 


National Youth Sector Census Reports

You can read previous year’s Census reports here: 

Youth Sector Census: Spring Snapshot 2023

Click below to read our snapshot report 2023

National Youth Sector Census: Report #2

Click below to read our second report

National Youth Sector Census: Report #1

Click below to read our first report


The National Youth Sector Census has been supported by Youth Futures Foundation, Local Government Association (LGA), and The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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