YMCA England & Wales is calling on the Government to prioritise young people and reinvest in youth services.

Youth services exist to provide a sense of belonging, a safe space, and the opportunity for some of the most vulnerable young people, to enjoy being young.  But sadly, young people have suffered as a direct result of funding cuts across England and Wales. Since 2010/11, youth services such as youth clubs and youth workers have been cut by 69%. More than 4,500 youth work jobs have been cut and 750 youth centres closed.

We believe this is unacceptable.

We are calling on the Government to prioritise young people and reinvest in youth services by meeting the following 3 tests: ​

  1. Reinstate and ring-fence youth services funding to 2010/11 level
  2. Provide universal youth services and targeted support for all young people
  3. Create a national youth service strategy


This is vital so that services for young people don’t become a thing of the past.


“Youth service cuts only make young people think they don’t matter”

Alan was referred to YMCA at 21 years old as a resident. Over the past two years, Alan has gone from a YMCA service user to becoming a qualified Youth Worker, for the same YMCA that took him in. He has also gained qualifications in becoming a boxing tutor and a football coach. Read Alan’s story.


“I feel safe in the youth club because all the youth workers are really nice, they have a lot of fun, a lot of laughs.”

Scott, 14 years old, attends a YMCA run open access youth club on Mondays and Thursdays. Gang crime is very prevalent in the area in which Scott lives in and therefore, isn’t an area deemed safe enough to play out. Read Scott’s story.


“Before I attended any sort of group my self-esteem was pretty low, having just come out of my depression.”

Taybah is 16 years old and attends YMCA Coventry and Warwickshire’s Foleshill Girls Open Access Provision. This programme allowed her to experience new things, make new friends and help her become more vocal about her opinions. She now attends a weekly girl group. Read Taybah’s story.

We discovered that funding to youth services by local authorities in England and Wales since 2010 continues to decline, with an allocation of just under £429m in 2018/19, compared to £1.4bn in 2010/11 – a real terms decline of 70%.

Our latest research has examined young people’s experiences of youth services. YMCA found that one in four (25%) young people feel so afraid of gangs they are unable to spend time with friends outside of school. This comes as more than half (55%) feel that a primary purpose of youth services should be to keep young people off the streets, however, only 50% of young people were able to identify any youth services near them.

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