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Exciting changes proposed in provision of Youth Work Services in Cardiff

A wide-ranging review of how Cardiff Council helps young people through youth work has proposed a range of changes to the authority’s Youth Service teams.

In a new report to be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet on Thursday, November 23, councillors are being asked to agree a new vision, principles and operating model for Cardiff Youth Service that changes the current ‘one size fits all’ approach, to a strategy that is locality-based, and tackles gaps in provision while targeting areas where need is highest.

The report has been compiled after a full-scale review of the service in 2022 and a subsequent nine-month appraisal of how youth work services operate in Cardiff. It has taken on board the views of young people across the city who contributed to discussions on the types of support and services they would like to see.

A 2021 review of Cardiff Youth Service by Estyn inspectors concluded it offered ‘high quality provision’ with particular praise for the support offered to young people’s emotional health and wellbeing and effective use of digital platforms.

But the Council’s ‘Stronger, Fairer, Greener’ ambitions include a commitment to improving the lives of young people and making sure youth services are available at an equitable level across the city and responsive to the different needs of different communities and groups of young people, including young LGBTQ+ individuals, those with additional learning needs, those with disabilities, young carers and young people with experience of the care system.

The new operating model would be in place by April 2024 and would have strong local teams at its core, placed in areas of highest need. Each local team would provide:

  • Universal open access youth club provision, including during school holidays (not currently available)
  • Targeted support for the young people that need it the most
  • Street-based youth workers to support the hardest to reach young people
  • Youth support workers offering more one-to-one support between school and community settings
  • Inclusive groups, which would be open to city-wide members
  • Join up with other providers of young people’s services in that locality to maximise resources and impact.

 Local teams will be supplemented by:

  • A Welsh language team to continue to build the Welsh medium youth work offer
  • A digital youth work team to offer universal access to youth work through innovative online platforms
  • A city centre team designed to respond to the unique needs of young people in a city ty centre environment.

And its key principles would include:

  • Ensuring young people’s engagement with services will be voluntary
  • Providing safe environments and spaces for young people to support their safety and well-being
  • Prioritising Children Looked After in any request for one-to-one youth work support.

Commenting on the new report, Cllr Peter Bradbury, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet Member for Tackling Poverty and Supporting Young People, said: “Throughout the pandemic and, more recently, during significantly challenging episodes for young people, such as the disturbances in Ely in May, the Youth Service has proven its value.

“It is playing a pivotal part in ensuring that the younger generation is well-equipped, supported and empowered to navigate the challenges of today’s world.

“This review, and the recommendations it contains, ensures that this work will continue and, importantly, will be targeted to reach those areas and the young people that need it most – we’re putting our resources where the greatest need is.

“One of the big wins will see youth provision available all year round and not just in school term, as is now. We will adopt an all-council approach. This will see other services which supply opportunities for young people linking up with youth services to deliver as broad a service as possible, one which is better integrated with a more expansive offer.”

Among the recommendations in the report are:

  • Provision of the service should be dependent upon need and the local community context in which the service is being provided
  • A five-year strategic plan to integrate youth work services with wider services for adolescents across the city
  • The Child-Friendly City team (which secured UN Child-Friendly City status for Cardiff last month) should continue to work alongside the Youth Service to help gauge and respond to the views of young people, and
  • Enable more collaboration with schools to support the most vulnerable learners.

The report and recommendations will be discussed at the Council’s Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, November 14, at 4.30pm. To view the full report, the meeting agenda, and a live webcast of the meeting on the day, follow this link

The report will then go to Cabinet for approval from 2pm on Thursday, November 23. A live stream of that meeting will be available to view here