The conference attracted over 350 delegates from across the UK. Speakers explored how collaboration can help youth organisations deliver ‘more for less’ in the current tough economic climate.
New Communities Minister, Don Foster MP, re-iterated a commitment that allows every Local Authority complete control over the level of funding for youth provision. While he wholeheartedly endorsed the value of community support for young people, Mr. Foster ruled out any national ring-fencing of money and stressed that budgets will continue to be set locally.
The recently appointed Minister responsible for youth services Edward Timpson MP also spoke and chose to focus on current national policy. He referenced the expansion of the National Citizen Service and said he wanted it to become a ‘rite of passage for all 16 and 17 year-olds’. He also highlighted the network of MyPlace centres which is nearing completion and the recently developed framework of outcomes that he hopes will be adopted across all young people’s services. Mr. Timpson said “Voluntary youth groups are (already) doing fantastic work in transforming young people’s lives. I look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure all children and young people have the support that they need to succeed."
Before the ministers took to the stage there was a lively debate on the benefits and pitfalls of partnership working. During this Tony Gallagher, the National Youth Advisor for Ofsted, called for an end to the duplication of activity, suggesting that statutory and voluntary organisations must focus on creating genuinely complementary services.
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson gave a key-note speech and talked about the need to continue inspiring and supporting young people, especially those facing social exclusion. The record-breaking Paralympics also made the point that partnership was a key ingredient to the success of the London Olympics.
Gemma Vango (21) and Louis Howell (18) led the day and young people played a key-role throughout.
Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive of UK Youth said, “This was a fantastic coming together of the major players in the youth sector and there was lots of really positive discussion. This has highlighted a collective commitment to ensuring that we continue supporting young people despite the shrinking public purse.”