A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
So no sooner have this year’s summer National Citizenship Schemes ended with NCS graduates clutching their certificates and staff heaving huge sighs of relief -than the announcement of who will lead next year’s schemes has come out. There will be 9 different bodies involved in delivering 19 regional schemes in 2013 across England.
NCS is a key Government programme, and a plank of the Big Society and is presented as a hugely exciting six week voluntary personal and social development programme for young people which helps prepare them for life and the transition to adulthood.
It is as if youth work didn’t exist and such programmes had only just been invented, and that until NCS no one was doing informal education and personal support and development work with young people, including outdoor adventure, team building, challenging and problem solving activities and volunteering etc.
Nonetheless, many young people will have gained a great deal from their participation and I wouldn’t necessarily want to knock NCS if only it hadn’t knocked so much other good youth work. NCS and the My Place Centres programme are the 2 key funding commitments of the Coalition Government and at a time when other work with young people has been massively reduced with many Local Authorities closing or significantly reducing their youth work offer and the voluntary youth sector fighting hard to keep projects and services going against ever declining budgets.
The 19 regional schemes will be led by 9 lead bodies some of whom will be operating in regions of the country where they have little knowledge and have not traditionally delivered.
In my region of Yorkshire and the Humber I was surprised that none of those tendering to run NCS in Y&H made contact despite the YWU’s lengthy history, extensive regional knowledge, relationships and networks. I do hope that they will better respect and work with quality local organisations drawing on their local knowledge and expertise rather than contribute to their demise by parachuting in provision by others. Certainly there are some well known names in the lead bodies and some experience of delivering NCS in either 2011 0r 2012 but there are regions which are bracing themselves for just what the advent of these regional Lead bodies will mean for existing provision.
For me I wish them well in their partnership building, planning, preparation and staff training such that the schemes will by and large offer many young people a great summer 2013 and a quality and even life- changing experience. But I do sincerely hope that they will respect and draw on established tried and tested youth work practice, methods, training and organisations in making this a reality and furthermore that this one 6 week programme does not become the only opportunity young people are offered for support and development especially when so much else they are facing at the moment is so difficult.
Miriam Jackson CEO Youth Work Unit – Yorkshire and the Humber