Our Communities Need a New Youth Work Strategy for Wales12-December-2019
There are reports of a 25% rise in knife crime in Wales and youth workers state that a reduction in youth services and a growth in “County Lines” drugs networks is to blame. Given this context, there has never been a better time to formulate a new Youth Strategy for Wales.
We are a lead provider of youth support work qualifications in Wales, delivering across all 22 local authorities and we are ready to play an active role in supporting Welsh Government in delivering these strategic aims.
The launch of the strategy sees a “new chapter” and a commitment to enhance support and entitlements for young people through youth work and youth support services; these services are provided by local authority and voluntary sector youth workers.
Every year, the vast majority of the learners that we enrol onto professional youth qualification courses are actively involved in the delivery of youth work and services within their own communities.
We are uniquely placed to deliver Youth Support Worker qualifications in community venues across Wales; where our community-based provision reveals a reality of child exploitation directly from professionals “on the ground” - where children as young as 13 are being used for sex and drugs trafficking - these real-life accounts are incorporated into our curriculum programmes helping to ensure that our youth workers are provided with the right tools to support the complex needs of young people.
In addition to our comprehensive safeguarding training, we offer a range of specialist support to enable youth workers to gain the knowledge and confidence to respond and act quickly in signposting young people to other specialist services.
The Youth Strategy makes a commitment to address recognised shortfalls; this is essential, so youth work provision in Wales is enhanced and identified strands are delivered. Investment is needed to ensure that youth workers are appropriately trained, where young people gain confidence and trusted relationships are established; where safe spaces are accessed and learner development is nurtured.
Collaboration with police forces throughout Wales and other professional services should be integral given that pressure points continue to grow. Statutory and voluntary sector youth work providers have been taking the strain in a bid to keep limited services such as youth clubs open in communities. As such, the occasional battle may have been won - but not the war.
The criminal world feeds on the vulnerability of children and young people, creating fear and distrust within communities. The Youth Strategy presents the necessary infrastructure, and through our collective efforts, we will continue to work hard to train quality youth support workers for the young people of Wales and their subsequently brighter futures.
Kathryn Robson, Chief Executive
Addysg Oedolion Cymru | Adult Learning Wales