• The film is being released to celebrate Youth Work Week #YWW22 by Football Beyond Borders in partnership with the National Youth Agency 
  • Youth Worker, Sam Hulme, features in film discussing life in Bolton and his journey into the profession

The film calls on the government to:

  • Back investment in youth work, creating opportunities with young people. Mobilising 100,000 youth workers and trained volunteers across communities, boosted by the recruitment of 10,000 qualified youth workers within 5 years.  
  • Protect youth services. Left unprotected, youth services have already been cut by over 70% in a decade. Greater support today saves long term costs to the public purse. Youth work transforms young lives. Urgent action is needed to secure a national guarantee of regular youth work activities for all young people. 

Failure to act now will decimate the youth sector leaving a generation of young people without opportunities to thrive.  

Sam is a qualified Youth Worker, having studied Youth and Community Work degree at Bolton University. Sam is interviewed throughout the film about what he does in his role as a youth worker, but he also reflects on his own upbringing, and how his experiences of being disengaged at school benefit his career in youth work. His experience as a Bolton based practitioner, in the North West region, is vital local understanding which helps him connect with young people from the same community. Sam says in the film: 

“The North West created who I am. Cold. Resilient. Isolated at times. And caring as well. Everyone understands the pressures that we all face, be it lack of opportunities, lack of jobs, things like that.” 

However, Sam says: “there’s still nothing been developed, there’s still nothing for young people to do” 

Reflecting on getting into youth work, Sam says: “I went down and volunteered at a local youth centre with some teenagers, and, as cliched as it sounds, I just absolutely loved it. I buzzed off it. I remember coming out and ringing Mum, and saying how well it had gone. And this was just as a volunteer as well” 

In the film, Sam meets one of his first mentors and colleagues, Leon Crosby, who explains what youth work means to him: 

“The power of youth work is to explain to a young person that it’s OK to be vulnerable. Vulnerability based trust. I’m going to be vulnerable with you as a youth worker, and you’re gonna be vulnerable with me as a young person. And it’s there we can start talking about issues.”  

The Department for Education data published on the 27 October estimates there are currently 404,310 Children In Need in the UK. This number is up 4.1% from 2021 and up 3.9% from 2020. Yet spending on local youth services has dropped from £1.2bn in 2010-11 to just £379m in 2020-21. For every £16 of cuts to local services, £1 fell on youth work. Through the pandemic youth workers were recognised as essential key workers. We need to reverse the cuts and grow youth work across communities.

Football Beyond Borders and the National Youth Agency are partnering to hold the government to account on delivering the National Youth Guarantee, with equitable access to youth work and mobilisation of youth workers and volunteers. They want the government to commit to recruiting and training 100,000 youth workers and volunteers: this equates to full-time equivalent figures of 10,000 qualified youth workers, 20,000 entry level 2 and 3 support workers, and an additional 40,000 volunteers. 


Leigh Middleton, Chief Executive of the National Youth Agency, said: “Every day, across the country, youth workers inspire, support and guide young people. They create a safe space, to be with friends and learn new skills. We  need more youth work, not less, in the face of the cost of living crisis. Yet just when young people need support the most, we fear another round of devastating cuts. 

It’s time to celebrate the vital role youth workers play in young people’s lives. We must protect our youth services and grow youth work across communities, to make a real difference to young people now, ambitious for their future.”

Jack Reynolds, Football Beyond Borders’ Chief Executive, said: “We want the government to create a National Training Programme (similar to Frontline, TeachFirst and Unlocked) for school pastoral staff to ensure every vulnerable young person has a youth worker. This programme will build on the learning from FBB’s existing training scheme which develops trauma-informed experts with core skills across counselling, special educational needs and teaching and learning.”

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