Acknowledging that youth services are “unlikely” to return to the same levels of the pre-austerity years, Bright Futures: our vision for youth services states: “However, we have a duty to our younger citizens to do the very best we can with what we have, and to argue for better."
The vision should provide “a starting point to taking a fresh look at young provision, encouraging true collaboration between all providers, to get the best for our children and young people”, it says.
In the document, the LGA calls on the government to ensure that youth policy has a high profile across government, and says it should explicitly include responsibility for young people within a ministerial portfolio.
It should also commit to “sustainable investment in preventative services by reversing the cuts to early intervention funding for local councils”, states the LGA, adding that funding to support the measurement of outcomes and the development of a wider evidence base for youth services should be made available to local authorities.
The LGA also commits to working with the National Youth Agency and the Centre for Youth Impact on an “outcomes framework for youth services that all councils can use", and working with partners to develop “a standard checklist for councils to use when commissioning services”.
The vision sets out six key principles of effective youth services:
1. Youth-led – Young people’s voices are central to the provision offered to them.
2. Inclusivity, equality and diversity – Young people feel included in their local area and can access the support they need as they progress towards adulthood.
3. Respect – Young people are a valued and respected part of the community whose needs and wishes are considered equally with those of other groups.
4. Quality, safety and wellbeing – Good quality services are provided by staff with appropriate safeguarding training, linked to a wider network of support.
5. Empowerment – Services empower young people to progress and engage in employment, education and training, and to take an active role in their local communities.
6. Positivity – Services are strengths-based and focus on developing the skills and attributes of young people, rather than attempting to “fix a problem”.
Leigh Middleton, managing director of the National Youth Agency, said all citizens require services that are designed for them, their interests and their needs. He said: “Yet for young people going through teenage years, youth services and youth work perform an essential service, helping young people understand who they are, how they relate to others, and they ultimately help them transition successfully into adulthood. It’s far more than just something to do and somewhere to go.
“This vision sets out the importance of putting young people at the heart of councils’ youth services. I’d like to congratulate the LGA on showing essential leadership on this often overlooked area, and to pledge our support in achieving this vision."