Youth workers and volunteers come together with young people, in a festival of youth work.
Youth Work Week is the highlight in our calendar, to celebrate all that is great about youth work. Our message is simple. Skilled youth workers deliver high quality youth work, for impactful outcomes with young people. This week we are championing the issues, ideas and opportunities from youth workers and young people, across communities. We are taking their messages into every corner of the country and the Commonwealth. Youth clubs and projects have thrown open their doors to local politicians, community leaders and families, proud of what they do.
We kicked off the week with a national summit focused on frontline services and grassroots youth workers. This was a culmination of regional road shows to get to grips with the challenges that young people and local services face post-pandemic. It comes at a critical time with the cost of living crisis and economic downturn, and fears that the November Budget will mean severe cuts to and, in some areas, a total loss of local youth services. It will cause significant harm to struggling voluntary groups that are dependent on commissioned services or grant funding. This will have a devastating impact on the young people we work with, just at the time they need youth work the most. Let’s not forget the magnificent support of youth workers, recognised as essential workers through the pandemic. Now is the time to act to protect local services and grow youth work provision in all parts of the country.
As the national body for youth work in England, NYA is responsible for workforce development and qualifications, curriculum and quality standards, safeguarding and risk management, and data to support an evidence-based approach. We work with national and local government for guidance, standards and investment. We convene and collaborate with partners across the youth sector. In the weeks and months ahead, we will go farther and wider to support frontline services and grass-roots youth workers, and volunteers.
It is vital every youth organisation, local service and community group that supports young people, register and complete the 2022 National Youth Sector Census. This is a large-scale, on-going initiative to identify, prioritise and promote youth work in all areas of the country. It is an essential underpinning of the government’s National Youth Guarantee of access to out of regular, weekly out of school activities with young people. The data will help secure a baseline of youth work for greater investment.
In tandem, we are working with the Local Government Association and officials, in consultation with youth sector partners, to produce stronger guidance for local authorities to carry out the statutory duty for youth work – young people’s educational and recreational leisure time.
Look out too for work ahead in the roll out of a new national register to help raise the professional standing of youth workers, as well as a central hub for resources and support for the youth sector. Youth Work One will be fully launched in the New Year, with the youth work curriculum and safeguarding at its heart, opening up training opportunities and networks for all who work with young people.
There is so much more that we can and will do, inspired by the ideas and enterprise of youth workers with young people. But let me finish where I started – the real difference is made when skilled youth workers deliver high quality youth work. That is why NYA will join with all willing partners to support our call to recruit and train 100,000 youth workers and volunteers. This includes 10,000 JNC qualified youth workers with recognised status on a par with education, and salaries that reflect this. It requires an end to short term project funding and youth work jobs which are patched together from different funding strands.
Greater investment and stable funding will put youth work on a surer footing and build long term, lasting relationships that empower our young people – supported in the present, ambitious for their future.