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Cardiff Council to strengthen youth service

CARDIFF Council is set to give the go ahead to a process that will radically change the way that it does youth work in the city.

The council is proposing a locality-based approach to youth work which will be targeted at areas where the demand is greatest.

As part of the proposed model, locality teams would be set up, offering targeted group work for young people who need it the most, universal open access to youth clubs, and street-based youth workers.

Cabinet members will meet on Thursday, November 23, to make a decision on whether or not to approve the operating model.

Cardiff Council’s cabinet member for tackling poverty and supporting young people, Cllr Peter Bradbury, said: “Throughout the pandemic and, more recently, during significantly challenging episodes for young people, such as the disturbances in Ely in May, the Youth Service has proven its value.

“It is playing a pivotal part in ensuring that the younger generation is well-equipped, supported and empowered to navigate the challenges of today’s world.

“This review, and the recommendations it contains, ensures that this work will continue and, importantly, will be targeted to reach those areas and the young people that need it most – we’re putting our resources where the greatest need is.

“One of the big wins will see youth provision available all year round and not just in school term, as is now.”

The proposed new operating model, which will be implemented by April, 2024, if approved, comes after an independent review of Cardiff Council’s youth service, which identified significant gaps in provision in certain areas of the city.

The independent youth review, published in June, 2022, found that it was unfeasible for the council’s youth service to deliver universal and targeted provision for all young people using current resources.

Cllr Bradbury added: “We will adopt an all-council approach. This will see other services which supply opportunities for young people linking up with youth services to deliver as broad a service as possible, one which is better integrated with a more expansive offer.”

The proposed changes come at a time when there is increased demand on the city’s youth services and as it continues to face new challenges.

Secondary school attendance in Cardiff has dropped from 93.18% when schools closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March, 2020, to 88.2% in 2022/23.

The number of days lost through secondary school exclusions more than doubled from 1,173.5 in 2019/20 to 3421.5 in 2022/23.

It also comes at a time when the council is under significant financial pressure.

Questions were raised by some members of the council’s children and young people scrutiny committee about how the new operating model will be funded.

At a meeting of the committee yesterday, one member, Cllr Lee Bridgeman, pointed to the amount that the council’s youth service received for its core budget this year, about £1.9m, and how this compares to the higher levels of funding that some schools receive on their own.

Cllr Bradbury said: “Schools is one area, particularly in capital spend, where funding has increased and where we are working with progressive head teachers in particular to find particular safe spaces for youth work to go in.

“On core budgets, when we have had the opportunity in the last few years to increase core budgets in this area, we have.

“If you asked me to guarantee that we can do that this year, I cannot… because it is November and the budget is debated in February.”