Are young people born since 2000 to be known as the Austerity Generation?

Imagine being 10 and at youth club that evening the leaders pass the bucket around, and ask you to make a cake to sell to keep the youth club going.

Imagine being 11 and the youth club that you went to closing.

Imagine being 12 and your parents have to move house because, after your brother moved out last year, they cant afford to stay in the same house, and they need to be in something with one less bedroom.

Imagine at 12 1/2 having to change school and friendship groups because of this.

Imagine that at 13 your birthday meal has to be got from the foodbank because the universal credit payment didnt come through on time after the house move.

Imagine being 13 and not coping with your new school, and you ask for help and counselling, but no one really though you were serious.

Imagine being 14 and developing an eating disorder

Imagine being 14 and having to wait 6 months for a Camhs referral and appointment.

Imagine being 14 and just having to cope and be told you need more resilience.

Imagine being 15 and trying to cope in school, where there was no let up.

Imagine being 16 and advised to stay in school or college

Imagine being 17 and realising that in college, that you get to do a 1 day timetable in something that you really dont want to do.

Imagine being 17 and the thing you want to do, you cant because the education maintenance allowance doesnt ‘exist anymore’

Imagine being 18 and realising that college might be the answer, but a bus ticket to it is too expensive.

Imagine being this young person.

Imagine that every year since you were 10 you were directly affected by the underfunding of youth services, education, travel, housing, social services, mental health provision, imgine that every year there was a change to be made.

Imagine how that uncertainty might have an effect.

When its not just one thing.

Its been one thing every year.

Imagine that being 14 might have been easier with a youthworker around.

Imagine that being 16 might have been easier with a youthworker around to help think through education choices or help realise dreams and potential.

There will be 17 year olds, who for the last 7 years all they have experiences is something that had, being taken away. Something they want that might be good for them being out of reach, something that used to exist not being there anymore, something that makes their already challenging life even more difficult to try and reach. I guess thats tough love by the tory government, or just tough luck.

Imagine thinking that it wasnt just your postcode that you feel left out in, but that its the wrong time in the world to be a young person.

Imagine how being 10 was a time of hope, of dreaming and of looking forward to the rest of life with excitement. Imagine having all of that dashed by austerity cuts.

Imagine being blamed because you’re now a bored teenager who hangs around the town.

It isnt what you dreamed for. what you wanted. But dreams are dangerous now.

Imagine that you are still the problem.

Imagine that no one still wants to listen.

Imagine being shunted from one 6 week course to another.

Imagine being in between. Out of one home, not in another.

When a secondary school teacher in a Northern Secondary school said to me a few weeks ago;

‘Young people perceive that no one cares about them’

‘Children and young people deserve investment, they have been at the rough end of austerity’

‘They are vulnerable first and foremost, they need people who care and then be alongside them’

They might just be right.

Yet, that doesnt seem to matter to the current government.

In a discussion at the UK prime ministers questions yesterday there was the following exchange:

Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton, Kemptown) (Lab/Co-op)

Q7. Last year, a quarter of young people thought about suicide, and one in nine attempted suicide. Young people are three times more likely to be lonely than older people. Knife crime is up, and gang crime is up. There are fewer opportunities for young people than ever before—68% of our youth services have been cut since 2010—with young people having nowhere to go, nothing to do and no one to speak to. Is it now time for a statutory youth service, and will the Prime Minister support my ten-minute rule Bill after Prime Minister’s questions? [905633]

The Prime Minister- Theresa May
I think “Nice try” is the answer to the hon. Gentleman, but he said that there were fewer opportunities for young people here in this country. May I just point out to him the considerable improvement there has been in the opportunities for young people to get into work and the way in which we have seen youth unemployment coming down?

Whilst the question may not have got to the hub of the whole matter and the situation facing many young people who have now experienced 7 years of austerity, and have a firm grip of how their lives are and have been affected. It is as true to say that the response from the Prime Minister is one who has no idea on what 8 years of targetted cuts that have affected families may have had on young people.

Young people still the brunt of the cut backs. Still demonised by the press. They deserve much better. Even just to catch up with what young people 10 years had the benefit of, no not the benefit of, the right to have.

‘Nice try’ – even the question about young people is belittled in response.

Its as if no one is pretending to try, and helping young people to survive is a mish mash of agencies scrambling around for the crumbs off the plate. The gaps are huge and many are falling through.

‘Nice Try’ nah when it comes to young people, this government have barely tried. And dont even start on NCS.

Mark Smith has written this piece at length on the site detailing all the research and reports which indicate the effect of austerity policy on young people education. Harrowing. austerity affecting young peoples wellbeing and education

The Government is right, young people just don’t need youthworkers anymore

Apart from ones that are in contact with youthworkers, know one or have been helped by one – most young people get on fine in life without one.

For one thing now, most young people have the internet. And thats where they can message people like Childline if they need to contact someone, or the Samaritans. They can contact services for mental health, eating disorders and depression, housing, budgetting and careeers, all on the internet.

Also, young people are doing so well at school, all of them are. Look at this weeks results, or last years. Or university intake levels. That just down to the teachers (if you believe the news). There would never have been any youthworkers in that school, or community over the last few years, oh no.

Young people statistically are drinking less, because they have to do better at school, because there is more pressure to go to university, because of lack of jobs and austerity. So good old austerity it means less young people are drinking alcohol, or getting caught drinking alcohol. And good old austerity too this means young people are consequently doing better at school.

If young people are doing so well at school, and have access to all the help in the world, via the click of a button, then theres no need to pay for a luxury that is a youthworker in a local community.

Because less young people are drinking, thus no young people are drinking? or because grades and university entrants are increasing (despite the reduction in grants- especially for the less well off) – then is every young person going to university, and coping well in school?

Young people dont need a youthworker, because as long as they have the confidence to contact a stranger in a call centre acting on behalf of a national charity, theyll be ok, for everything else just speak to a teacher or a parent.

Its lucky actually that young people can rely on their teachers and parents, and no one else. They cant need mental health services either, otherwise the government would be keeping the funding for them too. They cant need houses or services beyond the care age of 16, or housing benefit, or education maintenance allowance, or a decent minimum wage, otherwise the government would make sure that they could get them if they needed to. Young people in Rotherham had youthworkers, youthworkers who listened, but because the system didnt validate the voice of the youthworkers nothing was done. But no, young people dont need youthworkers, they cant do. they have so many people who are already acting for them, just for the interests of them who are wholly trustworthy, wholly reliable, and wholly going to listen to them.  You can tell that because young people cant accept that thats what a youthworker would actually do, without needing something in return.

Its funny that when the local government pulled the youthworkers in areas, the government have pulled services for young people, and thus ergo, young people dont even have the people who might listen and fight for them anymore. Or give them advice to cope within the cuts they have to deal with, but no, neither these, nor any young people need youthworkers anymore.

Young people dont drink anymore- not just because of austerity, but because of law enforcement and bye laws restricting it,  because of better education. And because its expensive compared to legal highs, who might be aware of this? However, the young people who are still drinking, they’re drinking more. It’ll only be the people young people will trust, usually people who’ll listen and not judge (often youth workers) who young people will be in contact with who theyll tell why they drink. Young people from the wealthier areas of Durham are struggling with mental health issues, and who are part of the diagnosis and the solution?

Its ok, because the load will fall on teachers. Who arent under pressure. Who are regularly told by the education secretary that they are to focus on the vulnerable young people, on providing pastoral support, on meeting young peoples needs. On trying a variety of methods to keep challenging young people in the school.

Its not looking that good for the young person, but hey, they never had it so good, not as good as us? Maybe not in the little things, like technology, but the system they’re growing up in is not in their favour. Its still in ours, in our parents. Especially when it comes to political decisions, pensions, taxes, house prices, jobs, benefits.

Maybe its better that the government doesnt fund youthwork anyway – its been argued many times that its seems a contradistinction that a service that might enable critical action of the government by local young people might actually be paid by them. Probably best to leave such a whistleblowing, annoying little voice in the corner to shut up. Disperse the profession into voluntary groups and agencies, into churches, charities and companies. That’ll dissolve their power. And keep them so busy trying to maintain sustainablilty from funding that they cant really take on anything other that what funders suggest that Government tell them to – such as employability, sports & fitness or lifeskills.  No collaborative voice, barely a union, no funding.

But no, the government must be right, young people just dont need youthworkers anymore. 11 years ago when i started in youthwork i found it difficult, especially in some circles to see young people as oppressed, Now there is no doubt that they are being disproportionately penalised & unsupported. Maybe its just the government that have no need for youthworkers anymore, and paradoxically young people have even more need than they have ever done.