We’ve been thinking about just how many opportunities there are for young people in Bristol. But then we wondered, does everyone know they exist?
When I say youth services, let me guess – you immediately think of youth clubs, bad graffiti font and adults trying to act cool. But actually, the youth services provide a valuable and necessary part of being a young person. It’s such a versatile service that you may not even realise that you’re part of.
It’s only if it were to go that you’d realise how much you made use of it.
With the mayoral elections coming up in May 2016, youth services and whether they continue to receive funding, will be a really important issue for the candidates. And it’s an issue that affects us all. So we thought we’d explore what youth services actually are, so, when it comes to voting time, you’ll have a clearer idea of one of the issues that’ll affect you directly.
Here it is… a list of why we think youth services are important. In the only way we knew… with gifs. Enjoy.
- 1) What On Earth Are They?
There are services the government or Council have to provide by law, but youth services – think youth clubs, local sports teams, courses and education programmes – are not one of them, (crazy, right?). Despite this, many of them work with and support vulnerable people who do use legally-required services eg police, ambulances, schools, youth offending teams and so on.
79% of young people who are seen as vulnerable or ‘in need of help’ use youth services. These are young people who are known to social services, in care, living in extreme poverty etc. Cutting the services would hit them the hardest.
2) If You Think It’s Just Ping Pong In A Church Hall, You’re Very Much Mistaken
There’s a huge range of services that people don’t even realise are provided by youth services. Bristol alone has zine-making, coding for girls, boxing classes, free gigs, a Youth Council, healthy food advice, volunteering, help for the homeless, minority groups, and networking *gasps for air* – everything you could ever need. There are so many things you can do, and Rife Guide has got so many of them for you to check out.
3) They’re The Gap Between School And Family
85% of young people’s time is spent out of formal education. So when you’re not at school or at home, youth services are there to fill the void. If you can’t speak to a parent or teacher, they’re a friendly face to talk to.
4) No School? No Worries.
Maybe school wasn’t your thing, or you lost your job and are struggling to find another. Youth organisations like LPW provide courses to help you learn what you need, whether it’s vocational or academic and it’s having a real effect. Since 2011, the amount of young people not in education, employment or training has gone down from 8.8% to 5.6%. And almost half the people who did some sort of training through youth services in Bristol stayed in the position or secured another job afterwards.
5) You Can Bug Them Whenever Because There Are Services 24/7
In the wise words of Rick, they’re never going to give you up. There is always someone you can turn to whether it’s 24-hour helplines for places such as Childline and Samaritans or a youth worker who can be flexible to your schedule. They’re flexible and if necessary, youth workers can come to you or call you over the phone – whatever you’re comfortable with. Not to mention, these services can be there for you as long as you need them. It’s not some month program, they are there for support and are in it for the long haul.
6) But The Internet Is Always Open And There Are Online Services Too
The youth services aren’t limited to fixed spaces. Many of them are active online and for some online may be the only place they operate. I bet you didn’t even know you were using a youth service right now. Rife provides support, mentoring and services for young people from Bristol and you can access it all from the comfort of your own home. Rife Guide even points you in the direction of a load of other stuff happening and the services in Bristol. And Rife Magazine talks to you about the issues that matter.
I don’t mean to blow our own horn, but that sounds pretty sweet don’t you think?
7) They Teach You What You Wish You Had Been Taught In School
We’ve all sat in maths working on trigonometric equations wondering ‘but why can’t they teach us how to pay rent? How to get a mortgage?’ Well this is where the youth services can help. They can give you advice and support about debt, sexual health, drugs and alcohol, employment and homelessness – and that’s just to name a few. They can help you to gain the skills you feel you might be missing
8) Loads Of People Actually Use Them Without Realising
Okay, so it’s hard to work out how many young people ACTUALLY use them, but statistics from Bristol Youth Links suggest that they’ve worked with over 7,000 young people over a year. But it could very well be a lot more than that when you think about how many people interact with the youth services without realising. Whether it’s reading an article online or contributing to a survey or using a space for an event or going to Brownies and Scouts, getting free condoms with your C-card or even just getting a coffee at The Station, you’re using Bristol’s versatile array of youth services.
9) It’s Well Safe, Innit
There are times when your school or home just doesn’t feel safe or comfortable, and youth services can be the space where it is. Youth programmes can provide spaces that are secure and fun. Young people’s involvement in crime in Bristol is sharply declining, in line with national trends. Total numbers of offences by young people have dropped by almost 50% between 2011/12 and 2013/14. If we’re at these youth programmes, we’re not out on the streets causing trouble.
10) Newsflash – There Will Always Be Young People And They Will Always Need Support
The demand for youth services will never die. There will always be young people who need support outside of the school and home environment. The population for 8-19 year-old in Bristol is expected to grow 57,600-67,900, so if anything, the demand for services will increase. Ensuring that these services stay funded is so unbelievably important, because without them the young people of the future will struggle so much more.
11) Ironically, The Youth Services Aren’t Just For The Youth
Okay, right so I know this one seems counter-intuitive, but the youth services indirectly have an impact on the rest of the community. These services benefit more than just the young people they are directly helping, but can support the people around them. By supporting young people, you end up supporting so many more people.
12) A Good Start Can Go A Long Way
There are a bunch of awards and charities that fund and back youth services. Duke of Edinburgh, Prince’s Trust and Arts Award have all been headed up by successful people who feel it necessary to contribute towards for various reasons. You’ve even got huge success stories from the likes of Coldplay and Damien Hirst who support the youth services. Some may credit the services for contributing towards their own success, others may feel that if these services were available when they had been young, it would have had a huge impact on the way in which they spent their spare time.
For all the information on what youth services offer – where to go, what to do, advice on sex, drugs and money or even just someone to talk to – head over to Rife Guide