UK Youth welcomes the strong commitment from the Civil Society Strategy in valuing the contribution of young people to society. In our Civil Society Strategy submission back in May 2018, we called for young people to be central change-makers at the heart of civil society and be equal stakeholders in decision-making.
We are pleased to read that as a result of the Civil Society Strategy, more young people will be directly influencing the policy process and programme design through Youth Steering and Commissioning Groups at the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and other Government departments should follow this model.
In order to deliver a long-lasting and meaningful strategy, a truly collaborative approach is necessary, with a long term vision spanning multiple parliaments and electoral cycles. We are pleased to see our recommendation for more collaborative work was taken on board, with government departments such as DCMS and DfE (Department for Education) now working together, and a biannual report on their progress to help young people shape the future of our society.
However, it concerns us that the strategy is only supporting the development of innovation and growth of the sector, when resourcing for vital core youth delivery services is so crucially needed for the many diverse youth organisations in our membership. Furthermore, it is imperative that the strategy recognises the importance of national and regional infrastructure, not just local, as it is these bodies that form the backbone for local infrastructure.
We are also disappointed that the strategy fails to recognise the multiple obstacles young people from disadvantaged backgrounds face, not addressing the structural inequalities and realities we know exist in society.
Alan Carr, Interim CEO at UK Youth said: “Whilst we fully support the thrust of the strategy, we have real concerns about the lack of practical steps to address the barriers young people from disadvantaged backgrounds face to accessing youth services and engaging in activities such as social action and NCS. At UK Youth, we believe the needs of all young people should be considered, regardless of their background or circumstance and urge the government to enhance the Civil Society Strategy by urgently developing concrete proposals to address this key issue.”
We are committed to supporting the implementation of this vital strategy for all young people and civil society led youth service providers throughout the UK.
We are proud to have prioritised meaningful youth voice at the centre of our consultation work with DCMS and we look forward to working closely with the cross-departmental approach throughout its execution. This is just the beginning of an ‘ambitious, evolving work programme’, in which we will seek to engage and empower all young people, especially those from the most deprived backgrounds, with civil society.