Manifesto - Family Work

The right start in life is crucial for the long-term development of a young person. It is for this reason that YMCA work with young people from birth through to adulthood – maintaining the support for them both as individuals but also within a family unit.

One way of addressing poverty within families is to engage more parents into the job market. Currently the Government’s policy of free childcare for three and four year old children for 15 hours per week and for the 40% most disadvantaged two year olds goes some way to achieving this. However, this does not go far enough or reach all families. As such there needs to be parity across the age ranges and the 15 hours should be extended to all two year olds and not just the most disadvantaged.

The development of a young person is not just confined to schools and parents as there are many other influencing actors in their lives and the youth service is an example of one which often plays a positive role.

Over the past five years this role has diminished significantly as local authorities have had to operate under reduced budgets and there is consistent evidence which shows that youth services have been an easy and frequent target when looking to make savings[i]. Whilst a statutory youth service would be ideally placed to be a third pillar in supporting the development of young people it must be done within the context of the economic climate. As such in order to be sustainable the youth service must adapt its model to deliver for young people in different ways.

There is significant scope for areas of non-formal learning and pastoral care, which are often part of a youth service, to be delivered within schools by qualified youth workers – supplementing the reduction in funding from local authorities to be driven back into positive activities for young people.

Although there has been a statutory duty to provide Sex and Relationships Education in secondary schools since 2010 there is still a significant lack of the relationship education element being taught. Relationships education should include exploring issues such as domestic violence, overcoming breakups, an understanding of respect, the different types of relationships and the signs of a good and bad relationship. Whilst an important element of relationship education should be around how to act within one there should also be an understanding that young people do not have to be in a relationship to be happy.


  • The 15 hours of free childcare available to the most disadvantaged should be extended to all two year olds.
  • A national strategy on childcare should be implemented to address the failure of the current system to meet parental requirements.
  • The Government should reclassify youth services as a statutory service. Local authorities should be required to have in a place a youth services strategy.
  • An appropriate framework should be introduced to inspect the scope, quality and impact of a local youth work offer.
  • The relationship element of Sex and Relationships Education should be more explicitly set out within the statutory guidance placed upon secondary schools.


[i] UNISON, The Damage, August 2014