Today is the Choose Youth lobby of Parliament. Choose Youth is a coalition of over 30 organisations who want to see youth services and youth work preserved in England. I can’t attend due to work commitments, but this is really important. I went to the first Choose Youth event in Birmingham, and it was amazing to hear young people’s stories of how youth work has affected their lives.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has today produced a report showing the extent to which education spending is being cut across the country – and youth services are taking the brunt with an estimated 20% cut – much more in some places. Unite the Union estimates that 1 in 5 youth clubs will close across the country.
So today, please ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 1013 and show the minister that the government must intervene to save youth services – which he has said there is no plan to do.
This weekend, I went up to Solihull to steward at the national Choose Youth rally. This was a number of organisations and trade unions coming together to make a noise about the threats to youth services around the country – both local authority and voluntary sector.
This was the biggest rally I have attended in my time as a trade unionist – over 1000 people. And it was a very diverse group. 120 young people had travelled up from Devon. There were pensioners from the Midlands. Youth workers, youth work lecturers, trade unionists, MPs, councillors and more.
The event looked very impressive. Big video screens meant you could see everything that was going on wherever you were in the massive hall. There were activities to take part in, performances and some great testimonies from young people as to why the youth service should be kept.
A couple of my favourite quotes from the day:
£6 billion awarded in bankers bonuses would fund youth service in England and Wales for 22 years
‘I walked out in the student walkout protests. My teacher asked where I was going. I said I was hoping to go to university.’
“we have a saying in my school, doing a Clegg, it’s when you say one thing and do another”
You can view footage of the rally here, join the campaign on Facebook, and see what others have said by looking at the #chooseyouth hashtag on Twitter.