2020 vision – a glass half-full look at the year ahead

Graham Duxbury
Monday, January 13, 2020

Emerging from the festive period to a media diet of fires, floods and yet another flashpoint in the Middle East doesn’t do much for the Monday morning mood. And that’s before grappling with the more mundane issues of overpriced, overcrowded trains and any snow in the forecast simply being a sludgy inconvenience rather than a seasonal sprinkling. So, what is there to look forward to? Here are my top five silver linings.

  1. Youth work is back on the agenda. Thanks to a lot of hard work by many people, there’s the prospect of some half-decent resources being pumped into a sector that’s been one of the biggest casualties of austerity. The Youth Futures Foundation will be opening for business, building on what we know works in helping young people get into work and get on in work, and a £500m Youth Investment Fund will see facilities upgraded and investment in training and support for youth workers. Whatever you think of the politics and despite the fact that this is just a fraction of what’s been lost through cuts, the fact that it’s seen as an investment priority is to be welcomed.
  2. All eyes will be on Glasgow. The tragedies unfolding on our screens are the latest events to ‘shift the dial’ when it comes to understanding the need for concerted global action to address the climate and nature emergency. After the failure of the 2019 talks in Madrid, the pressure will be on world leaders to get their act together at COP26 in Glasgow. The event will be preceded by a youth summit in Italy, as co-hosts of the conference, providing an opportunity to highlight the practical ways in which young people can lead action to safeguard their futures.
  3. The North will get noticed again. It may be a source of intense irritation that it’s only when there’s some newly-won parliamentary seats to defend that the government starts to look serious at rebalancing infrastructure spending, but we shouldn’t let that blind us to the sense of possibility. The Children’s Commissioner’s Growing up North report set out the discrepancies in the life chances of young people growing up in disadvantaged areas of the North and made a number of powerful recommendations for future investment. We now have people in power who are more likely to listen.
  4. The curriculum is catching up with the world. Although the figures can be disputed, the news that schools are in line for a cash boost – particularly to support pupils with special needs - has been welcomed across the board. There are also some positive updates to the curriculum to look forward to as new relationship and health education guidance becomes embedded and, if reports are to be believed, a new GCSE in ‘natural history’ is developed. Helping young people cope with the complexities of personal and online relationships while inspiring them to re-build their relationship with the natural world is a strong combination.
  5. Britain will be at the heart of Europe. Wembley is hosting the final of the Euro 2020 football tournament in July. What else were you thinking of?!

Graham Duxbury is national chief executive of Groundwork

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