DCMS Civil Society Strategy – our response

Policy

UK Youth welcomes the Government’s announcement for a broad ranging cross-departmental Civil Society strategy, and agrees with the Minister for Civil Society, Tracy Crouch MP, that there is currently “little coordination” across Government for the third sector.  Charities, of all shapes and sizes are in need, both financially and strategically, for clarity on the role of central and local government in supporting the sector and the beneficiaries it serves.

We are disappointed to not see a youth specific policy statement come to fruition, as committed to by the Minister’s predecessor, however we are pleased to hear that the learning’s from the pre-election consultation period will inform this new strategy. We’re keen to see a greater focus on young people throughout this process and we’re committed to working with government to enable this to happen

We urge the Government to ensure the needs of all young people and those who support them are rightfully considered and responded to appropriately within the wider Civil Society Strategy, recognising the need for Government to work with the youth sector to ensure comprehensive local, regional and national strategies; develop interdepartmental Government advocacy; support access to new sustainable income streams; and create joined-up cross-sector frameworks for collaboration.

We are pleased that the Office for Civil Society has engaged young people directly in this consultation and we hope to see that they will continued to be involved in the development and implementation of the strategy. Throughout the consultation, we have given our members a number of opportunities to feed in their views and opinions, this includes running focus groups at our recent Policy & Strategy Forum, gathering feedback through 1-2-1 telephone calls and taking data from our recently published State of the Membership Report. UK Youth Voice, our national youth steering board, have also submitted a response on the digital platform. Their response is based on young people’s views from across our network.

UK Youth is committed to support the implementation of this vital strategy for all young people and civil society led youth service providers throughout the country.

 

Our key recommendations for the strategy are as follows;

Our Civil Society

  • A commitment from the Government and wider society to recognise the value and strengths of young people as the future leaders of this country
  • A dedicated, long term youth strategy backed by a cross-party and cross Government department commission and headed by a Minister for Young People
  • Early intervention: positive community building activities and political education in the curriculum, in both formal and informal settings

Every young person should be given the opportunity of the best possible start in life. They should be seen as assets and we should be looking at what support they need to make the best transition to adulthood, to ensure that we create the best future leaders of this country.

A dedicated, long term youth strategy will enable greater partnership working and collaboration across multiple sectors and Government departments to ensure that all young people have access to the services they need and are able to thrive and achieve their goals.

We recognise the need for early intervention and we know that through investing early with positive community building activities built into the curriculum in formal and informal education settings, young people are more likely to become engaged in social action and civil society from an early age.

 

People

  • Young people should be equal stakeholders in decision making and opportunity to influence local and national policy making
  • Automatic voter registration from the age of 16
  • Recognition of the value of and investment in youth services and youth work and the impact that this can have on individual young people and communities

It’s important when engaging with young people to build trust and accountability into processes. Young people are often seen as figure-heads for campaigns or for photo-calls. To build young people’s trust in civil society, a you-said-we-did model should be implemented in all decision making processes. The Government should work with UK Youth and other youth sector organisations to enhance the quality of youth engagement during consultation processes, enabling a two-way conversation between policy makers and young people, and room for young people to share their views and opinions in a safe, open and welcoming space.

We advocate for automatic voter registration from the age of 16. It will not only have a positive impact on the youth voter turnout, but also take away the need for and costs involved with voter registration drives from youth charities and organisations. It is vital that the voices of young people are prioritised during Government policy making, in turn building stronger democratic engagement, a stronger trust in civic representatives and for many young people, help to regain their sense of belonging and identity.

We call for the Government to support the youth sector in recognising the value it adds to the lives of young people and wider society. We recognise the need for the sector to gather and record good evidence to show the impact it has on key outcomes, however without a clear long term vision for young people, this is challenging for many organisations.

 

Partnership 

  • Work with the youth sector and young people to develop a clear, long term strategic vision for young people, creating a clear comprehensive and inter-connected strategy
  • Support the sector to build capacity, infrastructure and sustainable funding models
  • Invest in long term partnerships that have real benefit to young people and communities

The Civil Society Strategy should focus on how Government, the youth sector, wider partners and young people can work better together to overcome the current and future issues facing young people. A long term vision will enable the development of a framework, outlining key outcomes for young people so that they can make a successful transition to adulthood so that they are able to thrive, be healthy and happy. The strategy should have buy in from all main political parties, sit across government departments and include the infrastructure and resources needed to fulfil the goals. It is only through this approach that we will be able to tackle some of the deeply ingrained issues facing young people today and be able to provide sustainable partnerships and investment across the youth sector and wider civil society.

The Government should provide a strategic and quality management role to ensure that a comprehensive and fit-for-purpose offer is being delivered to all young people. Investment in capacity building and infrastructure is required to ensure the sector is well supported to meet the changing needs of young people and to ensure that organisations are able to fulfil their goals and to reduce the current competitive nature of funding. There is an opportunity to bring together stakeholders from a number of sectors, who are interested in the outcomes of young people. For example health, education, housing, social care, employment and justice, and government funding across all departments should promote rather than constrain charities in their work. Competitive tendering should be a last resort.

 

Place

  • Every young person should be able to access high quality, open-access, youth provision in their local area staffed by well trained and qualified youth workers and volunteers.

For many young people, their youth club is their only safe space. We believe youth services underpin many other essential services for young people and enable all young people to build bright futures. Every young person in every region, city, town and village of the United Kingdom should have access to a minimum standard of youth services, enabling them access to mental health services, citizenship education, social mixing and training. We should recognise the skills and experience needed to support young people in a youth work setting and support the youth sector to continue to further develop the quality standards in this area to ensure that they are creating safe spaces for young people to engage in many of the activities we’ve mentioned.

Whilst we are disappointed that there is no funding related to the outcome of the Civil Society Strategy we recognise the opportunity this consultation provides in shaping future spending reviews to prioritise investment in youth services and we call on government to work with UK Youth and our colleagues across the sector to explore how this can be achieved.

We will continue to call for more investment and funding for youth services, which we know support young people, listening and responding to their changing needs and requirements, and particularly to those who are the hardest to reach, and enable them to be engaged and supported in their local communities and to become active citizens.

You can download our full response here

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