For every £1 we spend on youth work in the city, TDC, as part of the Youth Collective, calculate a saving to Brighton and Hove Council of £5.56 further down the line. Young kids who are being bullied; struggling with eating disorders; battling mental health issues; suffering abuse at home; dropping out of school; thinking about drugs or alcohol; self-harming; risk taking; feeling suicidal… these problems don’t just disappear as you get older, they turn into much bigger problems that cost the Council at least 5.5 times more to manage.
And that’s just the finances – what about the cost to society? Youth work is a pre-emptive measure against many of cities larger problems with drugs, alcohol, street sleeping, crime…. Without it, Brighton and Hove’s future starts to look very bleak.
We also lose a huge swathe of young people, denied the opportunities that would help them realise a better future.
What’s the problem then?
The Council commissions the Youth Collective, a group of 11 voluntary and community organisations that includes TDC, to deliver youth work across the city.
The recent draft budget, released a couple of weeks ago, slashes the figures for youth services from £1m to £200,000, but more specifically, cuts the commission for voluntary sector services – the Youth Collective, by 100%. It is catastrophic news for the 3000 people currently supported by the combined group, who benefit from youth work in many ways.
It is also shattering for TDC – in our last financial year, 78% of TDC’s youth funding came from the Council via the Youth Collective.
What about other funding?
There are other grants and fundraising opportunities available for youth work – and we are constantly looking for new pots of money – but many of our applications are successful because funders can see that we have the Council investment. In fact, the Youth Collective have calculated that for every £1 received in commissions from the local authority, we can leverage a similar investment from other funders like Children in Need, Big Lottery or Comic Relief. That doubles the amount we can spend, but also makes the current situation even harder to stomach.
There is, of course, individual and business fundraising. It was fantastic to join forces with British Airways i360 earlier in the year – and they will hopefully help us raise more support and funds over the coming year. We are also making changes to our website so that it is easier for people to fundraise for us, as well as clearer for them to see the impact of our work.
How does youth work impact on young people?
Youth work has been around since the early 1800’s. It sets out to support and educate young people about things that are important and relevant to them. These are often areas which are not covered in school curriculum, but are arguably more important if young people are to make sense of their current situation.
“We know that bespoke, personalised curricula built around what’s going on for someone at a particular time in their lives is an effective way to use education as a support mechanism. We know that having a meaningful and congruent relationship between ‘educator’ and ‘learner’ has profound and lasting results.”
Adam Muirhead, Youth Project Manager
In today’s climate, children have complex needs. Mental health issues are on the rise, self-harming and eating disorders are common-place, alcohol and drugs are easily accessed, gang culture continues to creep into the most disadvantaged areas and, in the areas TDC works, 1 in 3 children are living in poverty. TDC youth workers go out onto the streets to talk to young people, identify their needs and help them to address their problems. We offer training, support, counselling, guidance – whatever they need to help them take control of their own lives.
How do TDC practice youth work?
TDC have worked with the young people of Brighton and Hove for over a decade, achieving some incredible things in that time; a multi-award winning social enterprise set up and run by teenagers which funds an entire summer programme each year worth £5,000. A young journalists’ group who have been trained at the Guardian HQ in London and have lobbied their MP in Westminster. A young women’s group who have gained formal accreditation for their publically-exhibited artwork challenging negative body stereotypes for women. We supported young people to distribute £20,000 to local youth projects, as voted on by the beneficiaries themselves.
We following these guidelines:
- Young people engage with us voluntarily – we do not force anyone to work with us
- Young people are the main focus – it’s the best outcome for them that we are concerned with (not their parents, their school or anyone else)
- We work with empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard for our young people
- We support equality of opportunity, working for a fairer society where young people’s voices are heard and taken into account
What will happen if funding is lost?
“All the years of cumulative relationships with young people, their families and the rest of the community; all the future work not yet achieved; all the work we have done and the changes we have made, it is all under threat now because the city cannot afford to fund it.
Brighton & Hove City Council is under huge pressure to make some terrible cuts but we are urging, for the sake of the young people we work with, that they do not make the drastic cuts proposed. Please stand with the City’s young people on this issue and ask your local Councillor for an amendment to these cuts in the February budget. For more information, please listen to my interview on Radio Free Brighton with Davy Jones.
Please also consider signing this petition started by a local young woman that today passed 1,000 signatures!
Please save your youth work.”
Adam Muirhead, Youth Project Manager