Update from the Chair of the Youth Work Strategy Implementation Board
An update from the Chair of the Youth Work Strategy Implementation Board, Sharon Lovell MBE
Helo Pawb / hello everyone,
I hope you are all doing well in this very hot weather and staying safe. I wanted to provide you with an update on what is happening in terms of the work of the Strategy Participation Groups (SPG’s) as we transition to the new Implementation Board.
As I am sure most of you know, in June the Interim Youth Work Board held its final meeting, which gave us the opportunity to reflect on the successes that we, as a sector, have achieved. We are so proud of what has been achieved together and I am very much looking forward to progressing our work further to ensure youth work is sustainable for Wales. It also enabled us to discuss the need for the change of focus from talking about what needs to be done, to taking action!
This has begun with the appointment of the new Youth Work Strategy Implementation Board, and I am delighted that I will Chair the new Board. I am already working on the recruitment of the remaining Board members for the Minister for Education and Welsh Language to agree. I would like to thank all those who have expressed an interest in the new Board posts, and I am confident we will have a strong Board in place shortly and we hope to be able to meet for the first time in September.
As there is now a small space before the first meeting will take place, I wanted to provide a brief update of my thinking with the work of the SPG’s, and also to thank you all for the valuable contribution you have made in helping us get to a point of being able to move forward with implementation of the former Board’s recommendations.
What is clear to me is that we need to ensure we continue to work in a collaborative and effective way, so we continue to move forward together as a sector, sharing knowledge and skills along the way. The feedback provided in the All SPG meeting on 2 March this year suggests you all welcomed the participatory approach and can see the benefits of this going forward. It was recognised that in line with the recommendations, the SPG’s work may need to be refocused, the groups may need to be renamed, and consideration must now be given to the remit and membership of these groups. More examples of your feedback from the meeting is attached.
I have therefore taken the decision following discussions with the current Chair’s of the SPG’s, that the majority, but not all, of the work they were undertaking will pause until the new Board has met and considered next steps both for the SPG’s and for our own workplan. There are some activities that are continuing which is mainly where early action will be helpful to the new Board’s initial discussions, and of course for longer term work around marketing and communications. The way in which the SPG’s will operate in the future will be a priority for the new Board in its initial meetings and I will write out to you all as quickly as possible following the discussions both to outline our intentions, and to seek membership for these groups. This will also provide the opportunity to ensure we can be clear about what the leadership role of the new Board will be for these groups. I am particularly keen to understand what that may mean in terms of ensuring we are considering the needs of all young people in Wales to ensure equality of access for everyone.
I hope many of you will continue to be interested and passionate about helping us drive forward this work over the next few years, and again I can only say how grateful I am for all the work you have done so far. I hope we can build on this to ensure we have a youth work model in Wales we can all say we helped to develop, and that we are proud of for all young people.
Feedback from All SPG network meeting 2 March 2022
Question from the breakout session – review and evaluate the work of the SPG’s. What has gone well, what could be improved and what comes next?
Overall the SPG’s have provided fantastic networking opportunities throughout the whole time of the SPG groups running. We have been able to share and connect, stay informed, particularly over the issues relating to the pandemic.
- The workplans were an opportunity to develop models for the future, working together
- There was a lot of discussion around the capacity of individuals and organisations to engage with the work and the workplans when they were developed. There was a suggestion that senior leadership buy-in was needed within organisations to ensure that their employees had the time to participate in the work of the groups.
- Its really important to ensure that the right people are involved in the groups, and the groups must have focus and direction.
- Some of the work needs to continue as the implementation of the recommendations is taking forward. However, they need to consider changing the names to reflect the move into a different phase of work.
- Recognised the need for stability of membership – the right membership who are able to support the work, but also to get people in as needed for specific levels of expertise and skills.
- Welcomed the opportunity to meet online which helped to bring people together from all over Wales, and to attend fairly regularly as it can fit into other work throughout the day.
- They provide an opportunity to work closely with Welsh Government Officials which was welcomed.
- Consideration of workplans and crossover between some of the groups needs to be considered further.
- Whilst groups were keen to recruit young people to participate in the groups, overall this didn’t work well and was inconsistent across the SPG’s. Further work needs to be done to consider how the voice of young people is captured and responded to.
- There is a need to ensure a continued participatory approach in future working groups, and the groups need to be appropriately resourced including to support the involvement of young people.
- There is a need for a clear youth work brand to help underpin everything, which is integral to the longer term strategy attached to it, and can help young people identify they are attending youth work services/attract them to services, and also to attract professionals to work in the sector.