Opinion Former Video

What "We Believe" young people need - YMCA

YMCA have launched their 2015 manifesto in the House of Commons ahead of the UK General Election.

The manifesto, entitled ‘We Believe’, calls on politicians from all parties to consider the needs of young people and makes recommendations across five areas of change: accommodation, family work, health and wellbeing, training and education, democracy and youth engagement.

Recommendations range from a need to build more affordable housing, through to proposals for a ‘Help to Rent’ scheme which could help more young people negotiate the challenges of saving for a deposit and costly monthly rents, as well as better mental health support and incentives to encourage companies to take on more young apprentices.

Josh, 18, from Barnard Castle, County Durham, is currently seven months into a joinery apprenticeship with YMCA Teesdale, after finding job opportunities limited and school a struggle: “When I left school I wanted to be a plumber or a mechanic but there were no opportunities at local businesses. Instead I tried to go back to sixth form but it just wasn’t for me. I needed something with a more practical focus. I felt so lucky when the YMCA apprenticeship came along, but I think that lots more young people like me could also benefit from this type of training if they were given the chance.”

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive, YMCA England said: “Young people represent the future of our country. In our work, we constantly find ourselves supporting young people who are keen to learn skills, pursue job opportunities or who, once someone takes time to listen, reveal big plans and ideas for how they would like to contribute to society. However, limited educational opportunities, a lack of suitable jobs and an inflexible welfare system can leave young people feeling cast aside and unsupported. With a just a little bit of extra help to help them on their way in life, the young people of our country would be able to give back so much.”

To pledge your support for the YMCA manifesto, and call for more support for young people, simply visit: www.ymca.org.uk/webelieve. You will then have the opportunity to share via Facebook and Twitter.

Share you owns thoughts and vision for how to make a brighter future for young people using the hashtag #WeBelieve – and encourage friends and contacts to do the same!

To find out more, download a full version of the Manifesto via: www.ymca.org.uk/manifesto.

Video Script:

Poverty is the single biggest factor in determining the future prospects of a child. It’s sobering that 3.5 million children in the UK are living in poverty with all the disadvantages and obstacles it places on the pathway to success.

Creating supportive, inclusive and energising communities where young people can thrive is embedded in YMCA’s 170-year-old DNA.

And they underpin our messages of change to government. Messages that are not always readily achievable but ones which we should aspire to and that the YMCA is ready to strive to deliver.

YMCA understands that in a challenging economic environment governments have to make difficult decisions. But these decisions must not disproportionately affect young people - too often the forgotten voices in society.

Take housing. We believe that every young person should have a safe place to stay. Removing automatic Housing Benefit entitlement for young people would have a damaging impact, while further investment is required in building low-cost homes for single young people.

We believe that every young person should be able to fulfil their full potential. Many young people find themselves in a rut of short-term, part-time zero hour contract based jobs with periods of reliance upon benefits. To help address this the government should extend the education and training funding from 19 to 21 years old.

We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy the benefits of physical exercise. We want a commitment to investment in community sport initiatives, especially in deprived areas.

Tackling mental health is equally crucial. It should be given the same priority as physical health when it comes to NHS budgets.

We believe family is crucial to creating the right start in life for young people. Accessing the jobs market is one way to help reduce family poverty, and for this reason YMCA wants to see the 15 hours of childcare available to the most disadvantaged children extended to all two year olds.

Young people have for too long been the forgotten voice. That’s why we believe the voting age should be lowered to 16. By engaging fully in local and national democracy all young people can have a voice within society.

We believe young people should have the best possible chance of achieving their full potential. We hope our elected representatives in the next Parliament share our vision.

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