Lost, lonely and nowhere to turn

This generation of young people has not had it easy. A global pandemic, a cost of living crisis and, as our most recent report, Generation Cut, highlights the devastating cuts to vital youth services.

As a result, young people have found themselves lost, lonely and with nowhere to turn. We are demanding the Government supports youth service provision all year round, giving young people the opportunity to grow before it is too late for this and the next generation.

What is the issue?

Since 2010, we have seen a 73% decline in spending by local authorities on youth services. This is a £1 billion real terms cut, resulting in the closure of thousands of youth clubs and the loss of crucial youth workers.

How has that affected young people?

Youth services provide a safe space for young people to go – somewhere to have fun with trusted adults to lean on. Cutting funding has made it almost impossible for organisations like YMCA to continue to provide these services, meaning young people are missing out.

Any good news?

Yes. In October 2021, the Government announced a further investment of over £200 million per year for the Holiday Activities and Food programme. This has helped support some of the most vulnerable young people during the holidays, including many young people that YMCA supports.

The bad news is that this support is for the holiday periods only. Many of the young people that need support need it all year round. Where will they go?

How has my area been impacted?

The impact across England and Wales varies from town to town. You can find out how it has impacted your community by visiting our youth services funding map. Just click the link and type in your postcode to find out.

Archie, Barnsley 

“When I come to YMCA it makes me feel so much more confident in my ability to speak to people, and it makes me feel really safe whenever I come which is important to me and every person.”

Marion, Southend

“My message to the Government about cuts to youth services would be that they’re really limiting the potential of our young population and if they were to increase their funding, they would really be investing in the future.”

The Report

Find out more about our Generation Cut Report

Your Local Area

See where your area ranks for youth services funding

Keep in touch

Get regular updates on the work we do to support young people


Find out how you can help by supporting YMCA

What needs to be done?

YMCA England & Wales believes that developing a long-term, sustainable funding model that focuses on both capital and revenue funding and provides services for young people all year round is essential to ensuring that this generation of young people gets the support they need. Our recommendations include the following:


Sustained revenue for all young people all year round.

The Government should provide ring-fenced revenue funding for universal and open-access youth services for all young people all year round.

Learning from the success of the HAF programme in terms of its national rollout and funding, we need increased, sustainable funding for youth services in all local authorities. This would enable youth services providers to deliver long-term, holistic programmes which support young people’s learning and wellbeing all year round.


A clearer statutory duty on local authorities to deliver youth services.

Currently, councils have a statutory duty to “secure, so far as is reasonably practicable, sufficient provision of educational and recreational leisure-time activities for young people”, which is often referred to as the youth services duty. However, the terms “so far as is reasonably practicable” and “sufficient” are not clearly defined, leading to wide variation between local authorities regarding their youth services provision.


A strategic vision for young people.

To develop a strategic rights-based approach to youth work in England as seen in Wales, working with young people about the services offered and a plan to ensure we deliver the principals and practice of youth work to all young people, from all walks of life.