For the street children of Hull, these youth workers are the sole remaining link with caring adults and, ultimately, to the chance to fulfil their potential. Outreach like this is simply the most dramatic end of the youth work spectrum. For hundreds of thousands of young people, youth workers offer a safe space and a positive relationship within which they can learn new skills, acquire knowledge and reflect upon their attitudes. They offer not just a safety net, but a crucial addition to education offered in schools.
Yet too often youth work survives, if at all, hand to mouth. Too many projects fight a war of attrition to defend what has taken years to build up and are forced to spend their time jumping at the bright lights of the lottery or bidding competitively for short-term, strings-attached government cash.
Labour has set a cracking pace in many areas since taking over. Let us hope that not too far down the line there will be an unequivocal statutory requirement on local authorities to secure sufficient youth services, in partnership with voluntary organisations. Our young people deserve no less.
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