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News | 17 November 2020

Leading voices demand urgent funding for youth services


Young people are being starved of vital services when they need them most - whilst the government sits on a £500 million Youth Investment Fund announced more than a year ago.

Leaders across the youth, education and corporate sectors have come together with celebrity backers and young people to demand that the government urgently invests in youth services. In an open letter to The Times, more than 100 senior figures and celebrities - including Caitlin Moran, Bear Gryls, Kathy Burke and Michael Sheen - have voiced their concern that youth services are being starved of funding at the very time when investment in young people has never been needed more. 

You can find the letter on The Times website here.

The full text of the letter that was sent to the Times is included below, including a full list of signatories: 

Dear Sir/Madam,

Covid-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities and vulnerabilities for young people. It is pushing more children and young people into poverty, disrupting their education and casting a shadow over their future prospects. All of this has had a dramatic impact on their mental health, physical safety and wellbeing.

The youth sector gives critical support, providing a lifeline for many vulnerable young people, particularly those living in areas of deprivation. A youth worker can listen when no-one else will, a youth centre offers a safe escape, and youth clubs and uniformed youth groups develop skills that can improve life chances. Youth services around the country have also offered young people a route to volunteer during the crisis, and will continue to support them to take action and make a difference in their communities. Investing in young people will help us all tackle the unprecedented set of societal challenges that we currently face.  

Yet at a time when young people most need this support, the youth sector is facing an unprecedented funding crisis. Covid-19 restrictions have hit income streams and reduced the number of adults who can volunteer. Hundreds of jobs have been cut. This blow to the sector comes on top of almost £1 billion of funding cuts to youth services in England and Wales since 2011, forcing more than 1,000 children centres and 760 youth centres to close. As a result, spending has skyrocketed on ‘late interventions’ - such as sending children and young people into care. 

We welcomed the Government’s £500 million Youth Investment Fund announced over a year ago. However this- manifesto commitment has still not materialised. Many organisations were relying on this funding to invest in vital services to meet the increased needs of young people. Yet these same services are now on the brink of collapse: 2 in 3 will not be able to meet costs in four months time. Current Government funding commitments - whilst welcome - are unfortunately nowhere near enough. Together with young people we are therefore calling for:

  • All existing financial commitments for young people to be honoured - including the £500 million Youth Investment Fund 
  • An immediate release of funding for the youth sector to ensure vital support reaches  young people at this crucial time
  • A targeted, cross sector recovery strategy for and with children and young people, informed by an inquiry into the impact of Covid-19

Yours sincerely, 

Bear Grylls OBE; Caitlin Moran; Vicky Browning, ACEVO; Tim Peake CMG; Thandie Newton OBE; Matt Hyde OBE, The Scouts; Michael Sheen; Natasha Devon OBE; Steve Backshall MBE; Kathy Burke; Helen Glover MBE; Ed Stafford; Dwayne Fields; Jack Monroe; Larissa Kennedy, NUS; Caron Bradshaw, Charity Finance Group; Robin Osterley, Charity Retail Association; Debra Allcock Tyler, Directory of Social Change; Steve Holliday, Energy Institute; Jennie Butterworth, Envision; Ceylon Hickman, Football Beyond Borders; Angela Salt, GirlGuiding; Neil Martin OBE, JLGB; Mete Coban, My Life My Say; Leigh Middleton, NYA; Martin Coles, Sea Cadets; Rania Marandos, Step Up To Serve; Simran Dhanjal, Student Hubs; Bethia McNeil, The Centre for Youth Impact; Ruth Marvel, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award; Peta Foxall, The Wildlife Trusts; Ndidi Okezie, UK Youth; Paul Reddish, Volunteering Matters; Justin Watson, Young Manchester; Emma Thomas, Young Minds; Wendy Human, Youth United; James Cathcart, Young Voices Heard; Erik Mesel, Young People's Foundation Trust; Emma Rigby, Association of Young People's Health; Joe Seddon, Zero Gravity; Geethika Javatilaka, Chance UK; Hanif Malik, Leeds Mulim Youth Forum; Pip Gardiner, The KIte Trust; Deborah McMahon, Woodcraft Folk; Ella Blake, Youth for Refugees UK; Jonathan Eales, Boys Brigade; Jennie Price, Youth United; Nicola Butler, Young K&C; Gareth Dixon, Young Hammersmith & Fulham Foundation; Dan Burke, Young Harrow Foundation; Jennifer Rushworth-Claeys, We Are With You; Stuart Dunne, Youth Focus North East; Youth Advocates Panel, Girl Guiding; Janet Matthewson, Young Barnet Foundation; Seyi Obakin OBE, Centre Point; Elly Heaton-Virgo, Young Ealing Foundation; Helen Marshall, Brook; Kahra Wayland-Larty, Youth Access; Paul Drechsler, London First; Denise Hatton, YMCA England & Wales; Dr Lynne Guyton, John Lyon's Charity; Sir Trevor Pears CMG, Pears Foundation; Yvonne Field, The Ubele Initiative; Rebecca Moore, British Youth Council: Katrina Lambert, Co-Chair, Back Youth Alliance; Emily Jenkins, Girl Guiding & Back Youth Alliance; Alistair McIntosh, UK Fire Cadets; Rita Chadha, Small Charities Coalition; Chris White, Zing; Karl Wilding, NCVO; Julie Murdy, Girls’ Brigade England & Wales; Louise Searle, First Give; Sheniz Tan, Asfar CIC;  Sir Anthony Seldon, The University of Buckingham; Peter Lewis, Institue of Fundraising; Julie Randles, Power2; Chris Cook, Sussex Clubs for Young People; Paula Robertson, Love to Learn, Katherine Low Settlement; Kev Henman, Space Youth Services; Sharon Davies, Young Enterprise; Jerrel Jackson, Creative Changemakers; Phil Pusey, Staffordshire Council of Voluntary Youth Services; David Sweard, Berkshire Youth; Andy Robinson, Institute of Outdoor Learning/Lindley Education Trust; Ben Rigby, Sporting Communities CIC; Laura-Jane Rawlings, Youth Employment UK; Iain Anderson, Northamptonshire Association of Youth Clubs; Anna Feuchtwang, NCB; Martin Houghton-Brown, St John Ambulance; Ali Harris, Equally Ours; Richard Parry, Canal & River Trust; Richard Wendel-Jones, Capacity Buildings Limited; Gill Bainbridge, Merseyside Youth Assoc; Barry Fletcher, Career Connect; Jenny Hodson, Vol Action North East Lincs; Kathy Evans, Children England; Tessy Ojo, The Diana Award Sandy Hore-Ruthven, Creative Youth Network; Andrew Moreman, Young Devon; Rashid Bhayat, Positive Youth Foundation; Jodie Lloyd-Jones, Oxfordshire Youth; David Sharp, North Yorkshire Youth; Alistair Dale, Youth Moves ; Tracy Wilkins, Pro Action Herts; Lisa Carroll, YMCA Worcestershire; Nik Harwood, Young Somerset; Anna Smee, Youth Futures Foundation; Debbie Burns, Youth Options; Kathryn Morley, OnSide Youth Zones; Holly Firmin, Coca Cola European Partnerships; Richard Parkes, Shropshire Youth Association; Amanda MacKenzie OBE, Business in the Community; Larissa Kennedy, NUS; Jade Cubitt, Norfolk County Council; Gareth Soresby, YMCA Exeter; Ben Hilton, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

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