Youth Services

Part of Kew Gardens (Leases) (No. 3) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 5:10 pm on 24th July 2019.

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Photo of Ben Bradley Ben Bradley Conservative, Mansfield 5:10 pm, 24th July 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention, and I recognise his commitment to children and young people, particularly as a former Minister—I know that any time I take part in such a debate, he is there contributing to it, which is very welcome. I totally agree with him. Securing and renewing qualifications is vital. Any way that we can find interested, aspirational and talented young people who are capable of engaging in this sector, whether they are talented graduates or people volunteering in youth work right now, who we can perhaps fast-track through the system to ensure that we have the right skills and qualifications in place, is very welcome.

I want to highlight UK Active’s proposals for opening school facilities during the summer holidays to ensure that there is provision for young people. We see spikes in so many social issues over the summer, when children are not engaged in statutory education. A huge proportion of our sports facilities, for example, are locked away behind school gates in the evenings, at weekends and during the summer holidays, which is unbelievable when we consider some of the incredible facilities available. I know that the Minister has engaged in that proposal before. I urge the Government to continue to work with UK Active to open up youth provision in the summer holidays.

I want to mention a local social enterprise called Life Skills Education, which runs a programme called DARE. There are no local colleagues in the Chamber right now, but at some stage in the past 25 years they will probably all have gone through a DARE programme. When I did it at school, it was about drug and alcohol education. My dad used to come into school on his police motorbike and we all used to go into the playground to talk about the police and what they did—it was all very exciting. That early intervention and education in schools has been revived in recent years in Nottinghamshire. Life Skills Education, which is based in my constituency, has just had a load of funding from the police and crime commissioner so that it can expand into every school in Nottinghamshire, getting in there with early intervention to deal with things such as knife crime, hate crime and the massively expanded curriculum now offered in Nottinghamshire’s schools. I just wanted to highlight that programme and encourage the Minister, if she gets the opportunity, to support it.

With the youth work census, which looks in detail at what services exist and how they are structured, identifies gaps and creates statutory guidance and a clearer definition of what a sufficient level of youth work actually looks like, we can ensure that youth workers and youth services can meet the needs of young people across the country.

I thank the Minister for her personal interest in and support for youth work in the APPG’s inquiry. I welcome the investment she spoke about for supporting those qualifications and interventions, and the youth charter. I urge the Government currently taking shape around us this afternoon to ensure that they do all they can to support youth work, by implementing the youth work census and ensuring that we fund local services properly.