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GE2024: Youth work is a solution

24 June 2024

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In this election period, UK Youth has been urging all political parties to: Deliver the long-term leadership and investment needed to unlock youth work for all young people; Prioritise youth workers as essential roles – alongside teachers, social workers, and therapists – for implementing effective policies for young people; and Listen to young people by embedding youth voice into policy-making.

We are pleased many of the smaller party manifestos recognise the essential role of youth workers and the importance of young people’s voices, writes Jacob Diggle, UK Youth chief impact officer.

The Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party have all committed to extend the right to vote in all elections to 16 and 17-year-olds. This is a welcome sign of trust and respect for young people.

The outside of a polling station, with posters in the window advertising the polling station.
Voters will go to the polls on Thursday, July 4.

The Green Party has also pledged to ensure local authorities are properly funded to deliver youth services, including investing in the youth workers who play a key role in keeping young people safe. They have also pledged to bring youth workers, rather than police officers, to work with pupils in schools.

The Reform Party has made commitments on tackling youth crime through “high-intensity training camps” for young offenders, as well as integrating mental health services within job-seeking pathways.

Plaid Cymru’s manifesto does not specifically recognise the role of youth work, but does acknowledge the charity sector’s role in delivering public services and pledges more secure funding, with multi-year settlements.

The SNP has not made specific promises relating to youth work. However, the party has proposed an EU-wide youth mobility scheme and wants to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law.

There are many positives to take from these pledges. However, there are some challenges and oversights. Overall, the scale of ambition and investment proposed does not match the scale of young people’s needs. No party has presented a joined-up view of their offer for young people.

No party has presented a joined-up view of their offer for young people.

Jacob Diggle, UK Youth chief impact officer

While a number of manifestos make commitments to expand access to youth work, no party has clearly explained how they will successfully implement these promises.

We have particular concerns about Reform’s pledge to introduce high-intensity training camps. Boot camp-style methods have been proven to be harmful for young people, rather than achieving intended outcomes.

The success of any of these commitments will depend on how much the new Government understands and acknowledges the role of youth work in supporting young people.

Jacob Diggle, UK Youth chief impact officer.

Election calls

Ahead of the forthcoming General Election, UK Youth is urging all political parties to: 

Read more:

UK Youth responds to Labour Party manifesto

UK Youth responds to Conservative Party manifesto

UK Youth responds to Liberal Democrat manifesto

About UK Youth

UK Youth is a leading charity with a vision that all young people are equipped to thrive and empowered to contribute at every stage of their lives. With an open network of more than 8,000 youth organisations and nation partners; UK Youth reaches more than four million young people across the UK and is focused on unlocking youth work as the catalyst of change that is needed now more than ever. To find out more, visit ukyouth.org 

UK Youth is involved in a range of programmes designed to help young people thrive, such as outdoor learning, physical literacy, social action and employability, including Hatch, a youth employability programme run in partnership with KFC. For more on UK Youth’s programmes, see ukyouth.org/what-we-do/programmes

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