Below you can find a brief report of the key messages from recent engagement by the Welsh Government Youth Engagement Branch with young people and youth work professionals in Wales

It was an opportunity for them to hear the views of young people.
It was also informed by their recent Empower Hour sessions.

Strengthening the legislative basis for youth work in Wales.

An update from Welsh Government’s Youth Engagement Branch on engagement with young people and youth sector.
What we have heard from young people
In May 2024, we provided an opportunity for young people to share their views and experiences about the youth services and activities available to them in Wales. Read more about it here Youth Work in Wales What does it mean for young people?.

Over 100 young people have responded so far, through their youth service, organisations and groups, along with individual. Below is a flavour of the key messages:

  • Around 50% of responses stated that they had access to youth clubs and youth work in school or college such as lunchtime clubs and individual and group support. “I get lots of support from the staff”. “I always feel listened to and valued”. “Youth club is a safe space where I can be myself”.
  • Around 30% stated that they had access to Welsh language, faith-based, charity, sports and creative groups such as art, music and dance in their local areas. “There are lots of opportunities for work experience and experiences in different areas”. “I’ve made many new friends since I’ve joined the club”.
  • Less than 20% of responses mentioned forums, online spaces, information/ drop in shops, trips and residential experiences.
  • Less than 10% of responses mentioned targeted and specialised activities such as counselling, homelessness prevention, volunteering and vocational taster activities.
  • Over 50% of responses mentioned transport – both the cost of travelling and lack of public transport as things that stops or makes it difficult to access youth work provision. “Sometimes I can’t have a lift home from school if trains are not running” “It’s hard to get a lift to club when mum and dad are working”. “I think lots of trips can be too expensive”.
  • Around 30% of responses indicated that a lack of information and local services, rurality and a lack of time/ other commitments were also barriers to access. “People need to hear more about the opportunities that are there for them”. “There isn’t awareness of what is available to us as young people”.
  • Around 30% of responses also stated “nothing” prevents them from participating.
  • Less than 20% of responses mentioned issues such as disability, anxiety, age, poor wifi and parental/ family support were barriers to them accessing youth work
  • Around 40% of responses stated that more outdoor spaces and facilities such as sports, arts and culture were youth work activities, services or events that they would like or need that they don’t have at the moment. “More activities for people between 18-25”. “More services for young people with disabilities and people with special needs/ additional learning needs”.
  • More than 30% of responses said that they wanted more youth clubs and spaces to go to and having more opening times for existing community centres. “I want clubs or more opportunities locally to speak Welsh”. “Would like Youth Club to be open during the summer holidays”.
  • Less than 20% of responses said that digital spaces, outreach, residential and more preventative and targeted activities were things that they would like more of such as volunteering, training and community safety. “We should have FREE Wi-Fi in our Youth Club / places that we meet – Everywhere has WIFI expect for Youth Clubs”.Around 15% stated not sure/ don’t know for each question.

What we have heard from the youth work sector, partners and stakeholders

During May and June 2024, we also held a second series of ‘Empower Hour’ online sessions which focused on three specific areas and which assisted our work in both redrafting the existing statutory Youth Support Services Directions and Extending Entitlement Guidance in preparation for formal consultation later this year. Read more about it here. Over 70 individuals attended these sessions, with detailed discussion and some thoughts captured by a jamboard.

Below is a summary of the key messages: In relation to strategic planning for youth work:

• Long term planning can create consistency, an equal footing and a simpler and clearer framework based on what young people want and need. Which can drive greater understanding and awareness.
• “Strengths and opportunity-Focussed”. Greater emphasis and protection of open access provision and safe spaces – anchored by young people’s involvement and delivered in collaboration.
• Would a strategic plan protect youth work funding and promote better proactive rather than reactive services? How can this strengthen and promote the role of voluntary youth organisations?
• “Fixed in vision but flexible in the journey” – a collaborative and transparent approach can protect and bring the sector together to scope the future of youth work. Have to take stock and utilise what is already there and ready to co-deliver.
• A long-term planning cycle can harness innovation and bring about change in places where it’s needed. “Inevitably the fundamental issue will be funding dependant”.
• Incorporating qualification requirements could disadvantage or add complexity of registration for those providing important services for young people from the voluntary sector. In relation to accountability within youth work
• Provide a consistent, transparent and structured approach across the sector that delineates responsibility – particularly to young people.
• It could encourage parity at strategic level and open doors to more effective funding applications and information sharing – other routes previously unavailable.
• Can provide a national framework for measuring impact and outcomes for young people – which can enable pathways for research and drive professional parity and standards. However, could stifle innovation if systems and data sharing is complex – time consuming and detract from delivery/
• It could add further demand on capacity and limit flexibility and localised approach for local needs.
• The importance and status of volunteers in youth work needs to be protected and supported within the framework. Opportunities for prioritising and reflecting the needs at local levels. In relation to strategic Partnerships for youth work
• A strategic plan can provide the structure for reflecting local priorities in a long-term view, rather than a short-term reactive way based on problems.
• Sharing data and information is essential to ensure that plans can be sustainable, transparent and achievable – each partners must buy into the process and be supported organisationally and politically. Also considering that some national organisations will operate across several local authority areas.
• It takes time for relationships to develop and establish, a strategic plan must reflect that journey, and momentum and progress will vary across Wales.
• Can legislation strengthen key examples of good partnership working and to promote them more strongly? Would it promote and incentivise a sense of belonging and ownership from the sector and stakeholders to achieve the aims set out in the plan?
• Opportunity to develop a consistent language within the sector – alleviate technical terminology and jargon that often alienates and reduces collaboration.

Further details on next steps will be shared soon.

To keep up to date Sign up to the Youth Work Bulletin here

Find out more on the web

Follow us on X (Twitter) @IeuenctidCymru