A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
These are ‘interesting times’ for the youth sector in our region – huge local authority cuts, fewer grant and contract opportunities for voluntary youth organisations, big challenges for young people as jobs and training places are harder to access.
Local authorities are having to rethink their roles as providers and commissioners of youth work, taking into account the revised Statutory Guidance and the requirements on them for other areas of children’s services. The Regional Youth Work Unit has never been busier, supporting young people to have their voice heard, and local authorities and voluntary organisations to adapt to the new environment.
Last week we facilitated the BYC Regional Convention, where we were delighted to announce that over 40,000 South West young people had voted in the ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot to identify the topics for discussion at the annual UKYP House of Commons debate on 23 November. Big cheer for Charlie Finch, MYP for Devon for collecting the most votes of any MYP in the country – her reward is to close the debate in the House!
As well as the business part of the convention, young people participated in a humanitarian education simulation exercise, co-facilitated with our partner, British Red Cross, at the Norton Army Camp in Somerset. A brilliant event that really helped people to think about some complex issues affecting young people in other parts of the world.
Fiona Phur, our voluntary sector development worker is busy supporting the Continuum consortium in Dorset, bringing together VCOs to enable them to successfully bid for contracts in the county. Fiona is now an expert in due diligence, TUPE and legal frameworks, and the consortium has won several contracts in the past few months.
We are holding our annual Regional Youth Work Conference on 27 November in Taunton. It takes the new statutory guidance for local authorities as its framework, exploring how different elements of it can be implemented locally. We are looking forward to seeing old and new colleagues there for an interesting set of debates
We are involved in two separate Youth Innovation Zone projects, one evaluating how youth work can support young people from complex/troubled families, and the other finding the right ways to facilitate Parish & Town Councils in supporting youth work in their areas. Both of these could be really useful projects in sustaining youth work in these austere times.
I’m especially proud of our Sounds Positive project, which recruits and supports young people as ‘Media Champions’ promoting positive images of young people in local press, radio and TV. The project has been fantastically successful in achieving more than the targets set by its funder (Big Lottery Fund), and has been shortlisted in the Young Volunteer category of the Children & Young People Now Awards 2012! The glitzy awards event is on 29 November, and the hot topic in the office this week is ‘What does ‘Lounge Suits’ mean in terms of dress code for women?’.
Regional Youth Advisor South West