5,000 signatures reached
To: Ed Miliband
Protect Services for Young People
as you are aware, youth services across the UK have been disproportionately cut as a result of the austerity measures introduced by the current coalition government. By 2015, youth service provision may have disappeared entirely in many parts of the country and could certainly be the first public service to disappear. We know this issue is important to you so please take the lead and ensure that Labour's commitment to a sufficiently resourced statutory youth service is included in your election manifesto for 2015.
Why is this important?
Youth services will be the first public service to be destroyed. Not cut, destroyed. This destruction is echoed at ministerial level by Michael Gove's abandonment of youth policy. This represents a retreat from national youth policy by government for the first time since the First World War. The coalition targeted the youth service for break up upon its election. The ultimate reason is that the youth service is the only public service built and sustained by young people themselves in a real "big society" partnership and a service designed to give young people a voice and to develop critical thinking and collective action for change.
The youth service was created using the basic premise that all young people should have sufficient access to leisure time education and recreational opportunities to an equal standard in every local authority area. If we continue to use this premise then the youth service has been 100% destroyed. Dozens of authorities have closed the service down, scores more have transformed a radically depleted service into a kind of social service add-on dealing with young people as problems rather than active individuals to be inspired, empowered and educated.
Despite the abandonment of youth policy, youth work remains as a professional educational practice that uniquely inspires, educates and empowers, it takes the side of young people and combines these elements in a relationship that young people freely choose to engage with. From this relationship, a curriculum of learning and activities is developed that build on the positive enhance social and personal education.
The current system and funding arrangements have not stopped entire Youth Service Provisions totally disappearing in some areas. We need our government to create a new highly cost effective funding stream and structure across the UK, to make sure we all have access to quality Youth Services throughout the year, at a time when we need it the most.
The Youth Service is the only Public service that we have built ourselves. This disproportionate attack on our services show an attack on the opportunities we have and prevent us having a voice in society. Youth work contributes significantly to early intervention and preventative services thereby reducing the incidence of young people in need of highly targeted intensive and expensive services later on, for example:
A young person in the criminal justice system cost the taxpayer over £200,000 by the age of 16. It costs £35,000 per year to keep one young person in a young offender institution and £9,000 for the average resettlement package per young person after custody.
For a fraction of this we could have high quality Youth Services, for just £350 a year per young person, every single young people could have access to youth work services in their immediate locality.
We want to see a government that commits to a protected Youth Service that is open to every young person, as it has been for the generations before us. We believe this to be cost effective and beneficial to society.
Youth services really do change lives.
How it will be delivered
We hope to deliver this petition in person and will update details once confirmed.