The National Youth Agency held a reception in Parliament to celebrate the youth work sector on Thursday 1st December – originally planned to take place during Youth Work Week, but delayed due to rail strikes.

With MPs, government officials, charity leads, regional youth work units, allied sector leads and funders in attendance, the reception shone a spotlight on everything the youth work sector had achieved during the past year, as well as providing an opportunity to reflect on the challenges that the sector has faced and will face in the future.  

Short speeches at the event included voices from government, young people, the NYA, the Commonwealth and Ukraine to highlight the important role of youth work nationally and internationally. 

Youth work was acknowledged as an essential service through the COVID19 lockdowns, with key worker status granted by the government, which helped improve the status of youth work. Since then, the launch of the Youth Investment Fund has supported services and increased recognition of youth work at a national and local authority level. The impact of local authority budget cuts and the cost of living crisis however, are now compounding the effect of the lockdowns on young people and youth services and the event provided a platform for us call on the government to protect local youth services and to place their trust in youth work. Read our CEO’s blog from Youth Work Week for more on this ask.


Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Jo Gideon MP and Munira Wilson MP all gave speeches celebrating the youth work sector, the important work it delivers and the need to protect these services going forwards. There were acknowledgements of the tough challenges families and young people will face and the increased need this will put on youth workers, youth organisations and youth services. 

Munira Wilson MP, Twickenham
NYA CEO Leigh Middleton, and Jo Gideon MP, Stoke-on-Trent
Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Brighton and Esther Horner-Aird, NYA Deputy Dr

The National Youth Agency’s CEO Leigh Middleton thanked the sector for all that they had done in the last year and addressed the challenges that are ahead. He thanked DCMS officials for all the work they had done on the Youth Investment Fund and looked forward to working with them on increasing the recognition and use of youth work at a local authority level. He spoke about the effect that the cost of living crisis and local authority cuts will have on the delivery of services to young people and the NYA’s commitment to advocating for revenue funding to ensure services can keep running whilst being able to retain, grow, train and upskill the workforce.  

Leigh also outlined the value that The National Youth Sector Census will bring by demonstrating where and what services are currently operating, complementing  the Guidance for Local Authorities for Youth Services which shows how youth services should be resourced to deliver best practice youth work, and the National Youth Workforce Development Strategy paving the way for the workforce to grow.  

Speeches from representatives of youth work organisations across the Commonwealth and in the Ukraine addressed youth work’s role internationally and how youth organisations meet the needs of young people and local communities with a focus on inclusion, education, and advocacy. Dr Amina Osman, representing the Commonwealth Secretariat, spoke of the range of youth work delivered in countries with different cultures and experiences. She emphasised the importance of collaboration and how they make spaces for young people to shape policy going forwards. She highlighted that 2023 is the Commonwealth’s Year of the Youth across all 56 member states.

Olenka from the Ukrainian Youth Association gave a moving testimonial of how youth organisations are core actors in civil society in Ukraine through supporting displaced people and delivering humanitarian aid. She also thanked everyone from around the world who had supported them since the war started.

Dr. Amina Osman, Commonwealth Secretariat
Olenka, Ukrainian Youth Association
Zara Khan, British Youth Council Chair

The new chair for the British Youth Council, Zara Khan outlined how youth work provided her  with opportunities and experiences that has shaped the person she is today. She highlighted the two campaigns that were voted by the Youth Parliament to action: health and the cost of living crisis. This outcome supported the national Make Your Mark campaign which emphasised young people’s concerns around mental health and wellbeing.

Attendees were able to celebrate and connect with others in person, whilst showing their support on securing local youth services. There was a chance to speak to NYA’s amplifi influencers, the young people behind the design and direction of our youth led online opportunities platform: amplifi. Guests were invited to learn about the platform, our future plans, and were able to experience our new metaverse youth space through a virtual reality headset.

Lib Peck & Chloe Holness, London VRU
Anne Longfield and Lib Peck, Commission on Young Lives
Regional Youth Work Units including:
-Sharon Long, CEO, Partnership for Young London
-Stuart Dunne, CEO, Youth Focus North West
-Julie Auger

Pom Bhogal
Bambos Charalambous MP, Enfield Southgate
Milka Fisha, NYA – Equal Equity Programme
Sir Robert Buckland MP, South Swindon

This Celebratory Reception was originally scheduled to take place during Youth Work Week. You can explore what we got up to this year for Youth Work Week here. Next year’s Youth Work Week will be from Monday 6th – Sunday 12th November 2023

If you would like to know more about the event and/or would like to support NYA in their future activity, please get in contact with Lydia  

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