11 May 2023
UK Youth have teamed up with actor and writer Ben Bailey Smith to launch a new film highlighting the damaging impact of cuts to youth services in the face of the cost of living crisis.
The film features Bailey Smith, who is a former youth worker himself, playing pool at a youth centre as he reflects on the vital support youth services provide and the potentially devastating consequences for young people if they are allowed to disappear.
The film comes after a recent UK Youth survey found youth organisations are facing a perfect storm of threats caused by the cost of living crisis. Two thirds (63%) are seeing increased demand for services from young people, with a similar figure (67%) facing increased operating costs, at the same time as more than half are seeing a decrease in funding (51%) and a drop in staff wellbeing (53%).
Those cost of living threats follow a decade of cuts to the sector, with local authorities spending 77% less on youth services – a £1bn real terms decrease – leading to the closure of hundreds of youth clubs and the loss of thousands of highly skilled youth work jobs.
Bailey Smith believes youth work is an essential service to support young people, and is concerned about how many youth organisations and centres are shutting down at a time when they are needed most.
He said: “As a former youth worker, I know first-hand how important it is to have access to support and guidance as a young person. This film highlights the urgent need for more investment in youth services and the devastating impact that cuts can have on young people’s lives.”
Further polling from UK Youth has shown the extent of the damage the cost of living crisis is having on the younger generation.
More than half of young people (54%) surveyed say their mental health has been negatively impacted by the cost of living crisis, almost half (45%) say it is having an impact on their ability to heat their homes, while one in five (20%) say it is impacting their access to regular meals.
Ndidi Okezie OBE, CEO of UK Youth, welcomed Bailey Smith’s support for the campaign and called for more action to be taken to support young people. She said: “It’s important to see an actor like Ben using his platform to amplify our calls for sustainable investment in quality youth work to support young people.
“Ben knows the life changing difference that quality youth work has on young people. But the cost of living crisis is leaving many youth organisations struggling to meet the rising demands for support from young people.
“We are campaigning to highlight the severity of the risk we are taking as a society if we allow vital youth services to disappear. We urgently need governments, businesses and individuals to step up and help us ensure generations of young people have every chance to thrive.”
The film is part of UK Youth’s wider campaign alongside Pears Foundation to secure more funding for youth services and ensure that every young people has access to the support they need. Earlier this year, the £5m UK Youth Fund in partnership with Pears Foundation was launched to support youth organisations through the cost of living crisis – and aims to benefit thousands of young people across the country.
For further information, including interview requests with Ben Bailey Smith or a UK Youth spokesperson, please contact the UK Youth press office on firstname.lastname@example.org