We want all young people to enjoy their lives, reach their full potential and make a good transition to adulthood. They should be able to achieve their ambitions, develop positive relationships and make worthwhile contributions to their communities.
As Cornwall Councillors we would actively encourage Cornwall Council to work across departments and with their partners to support all young people to do this, enabling access to both universal services and targeted support through safe spaces and activities that young people need, want and value. We would encourage Cornwall Council to develop a range of support for local town and parish councils to help them to work towards delivering the vision, and use it to help make the case for additional government funding for youth services that genuinely meet the needs of young people.
So, these are our goals
1 – Youth-led
Young people’s voices are central to the provision offered to them. They can choose to attend a variety of services on a voluntary basis, building a sense of autonomy and trust in practitioners that encourages engagement with further work where needed.
Provision is structured around the needs of young people locally, offering both universal, open-access provision wherever possible, with targeted support for those considered more at-risk, disadvantaged or with higher need.
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. No young person feels marginalised or isolated as a result of disability, sexuality, nationality, socio-economic status, special educational needs, mental health issues, religion or any other characteristic.
The local youth offer helps to improve social mobility for young people from all backgrounds by offering support to develop the skills, knowledge and networks they need to access and take advantage of opportunities.
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. They are actively encouraged to participate in their communities and to enjoy opportunities in their local area without fear of judgement or negative stereotyping.
4 – Quality, safety and well-being
Good quality services are provided by staff with appropriate safeguarding training, linked to a wider network of support. Ideally this includes professionally qualified youth workers with the skills, expertise and competencies to support safe, quality services with appropriate levels and types of intervention. The youth offer helps to keep young people safe and supports their mental, emotional and physical health, improves their social and economic wellbeing, and makes sure they can access education, non-formal learning and recreation.
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. Young people are listened to and can make positive demonstrable changes to their communities, and understand how to engage with the democratic process.
6 – Positivity
Services are strengths-based and focus on developing the skills and attributes of young people, rather than attempting to ‘fix a problem’.
This is what we, as Labour Councillors would strive towards – as every young person in our county deserves this.
So, how do we do this?
Where many youth services were traditionally funded by councils, the landscape has changed significantly since 2010. Councils are facing a £2 billion funding gap for children’s services by 2020, and were forced to overspend on their children’s services budgets by £605 million across England. Government funding for the Early Intervention Grant has been cut by almost £500 million since 2013 and is projected to drop by a further £183 million by 2020. At the same time, demand for child protection services has increased significantly.
These two factors together have led to a major scaling back of universal youth services as councils have been forced to concentrate funding on those children and young people in the most urgent need, rather than the preventative early help and edge of care services – including youth provision – that might reduce need later on.
We know that providing early help to children and young people not only supports better outcomes, but it saves significant amounts of money further down the line. The Early Intervention Foundation, for example, estimates that nearly £17 billion is spent every year on late intervention, with £6.4 billion of that falling on local authorities, in particular children’s services.
We will fight to get the children and young people the early help and support they need.