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UK News

YMCA reports 'Youth services in England are at their lowest point in a generation'

by Alex Collett

Youth services across England have reached their lowest ever point in a generation, according to the YMCA.

In 2020, there were cuts totalling £959 million to youth services over the last eight years and the Covid-19 pandemic has only worsened the situation.

The Excel Project (XLP) is a London based youth charity working with 300 disadvantaged young people every year.

XLP employs 50 youth workers and has grown by 20% to respond to the urgent community need as we emerge from the pandemic

CEO of the XLP Luke Watson told Premier: "The youth work sector is in a bad way and it is having its consequences." 

"Knife crime, serious youth violence, gang culture, school exclusions, mental health, domestic violence and poverty - they're all getting worse, particularly for young people from areas of deprivation."

"At XLP, the type of young people we work with come from these really tough backgrounds, and we've seen them in the pandemic, those backgrounds have got worse. 

"That's a lockdown to a lack of investment in young people."

At XLP, we run long term youth work, we work with young people for 5 to 10 years often. 

"Because we know that if you come from a tough background, there's often really deep intractable problems that require long time, long term engagement to help with and some of the things we do are giving opportunities. 

"So we take young people out of London to give them new opportunity. 

"But really the main thing we do is we walk alongside them throughout their school years, get them out and into university and into jobs at the end of that."

Luke believes across England there is a real variety in how the cuts were made: "I think there is a disparity in the cuts.

"I think even within London there's a real mix of how much the cuts have been made. 

"Certainly, there are different issues which young people in rural areas face to young people in cities, probably that means that they require different intervention.

"We're very much specialising on inner city youth work. 

"So working with young people, usually on the estates, but in the country, there are similar issues of county lines, mental health problems and that's being seen across the country and is being exacerbated, particularly as a result of the pandemic.

"We've seen that the disparity between rich and poor has increased and that educational attainment between rich and poor, has got even wider. 

"So we see that and that's not just happening in London."

Luke has asked people to pray for Youth Services to improve and call on the government to do more: "We can pray for more government funding, you've seen the report that government spending has just gone down such a huge amount in the last 10 years. 

"We can be praying that that changes that also other people will get involved. 

"I think we see the importance of investing in youth, not just in London, but across the country and praying for individuals to get involved, for companies to get involved, for local authorities to get involved and support the work that's been done by charities like XLP and lots of other good organisations that are trying to make a difference on the ground."

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