Institute for Youth Work to push for statutory youth services

By Nina Jacobs

| 22 January 2018

The Institute for Youth Work (IYW) has outlined plans to get youth work onto a "statutory footing" as part of its new five-year strategy.

Adam Muirhead said the Institute for Youth Work wants to push for some form of statutory status for youth services. Picture: Institute for Youth Work

The membership organisation said it also hoped to create a "more equitable" relationship between the government and youth workers despite the current "political limitations" the sector faced.

Adam Muirhead, IYW chair, said any future progress made by the organisation could only be achieved through cross-sector collaboration.

"Enforced and improved statutory footing for youth work could mean different things, from a youth work act achieving Royal Assent, to the Local Government Association issuing firmer guidance on youth work spending to local authorities," he said.

Figures released by the Department for Education last month showed that spending on youth services by local authorities had fallen by £42m more than was expected.

Muirhead said in the absence of being systematically funded by the government the youth work sector was not "beholden" to it and IYW was in a position to "prove that they need us more than we need them right now".

He said IYW also hoped to achieve its short-term goal of increasing its membership to widen its political influence and help make progress on the youth work agenda.

"We are seeing the green shoots for a youth work renaissance, from the re-engagement of the National Youth Agency to the emergence of youth work's recognition as a hugely valued distinct practice and methodology," he added.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pledged to fight for statutory youth services in 2015 during his leadership race, despite his party earlier shelving plans to make it mandatory for all councils to provide a minimum level of youth services. 

The institute's five-year strategy also includes a medium-term goal to ensure that it is the recognised professional body for youth workers.

It also sets out a commitment to lead on the youth work register and support and advocate for the professional training and qualification of youth workers.

"The IYW is going from strength to strength and we would hope that those who are holding out membership until they saw some action will now join the movement," said Muirhead.

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