Youth Work - latest news
Charlton Kings Parish Council is a partner in the new Cheltenham-wide detached youth work provision which will be delivered by Inspire to Aspire (see below for further details). We have also convened a CK Youth Work Stakeholders group, to inform the work of Inspire to Aspire, which had its initial meeting on 15th July 2021.
Updates about the work that Inspire to Aspire will be delivering in Charlton Kings will be published on this page in due course.
Youth Work - what's available in Charlton Kings
If you are running any events or activities for young people in Charlton Kings, please let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can advertise them on this page of our website and through our other communications channels (social media, Parish Newsletter and Parish Noticeboards).
If you have your own website or Facebook page, we would be happy to include a link on this page too.
Youth Work - background and context
As elsewhere in the UK, the recent history of youth work provision in Gloucestershire is a sorry story. Hypothecated funding resources that had previously been available, were progressively withdrawn, as successive governments centralised power and resources by decreasing financial support and limiting Local Authorities' ability to raise Council Tax in support of local priorities. Parish Councils remained free of a cap on their Precepts but, generally starting from a low baseline, have been disinclined to demand high percentage increases in order to address local issues such as the 'hollowing-out' of youth services.
In Gloucestershire, available funding has been concentrated on supporting looked-after, and vulnerable children and young people, through a central contract with 'Young Gloucestershire'. YG is a charity formed in 1989 by amalgamating the Gloucestershire Association of Youth Clubs and the Gloucestershire Association of Boys Clubs. Regrettably, this focus has progressively reduced and finally eliminated annual financial support of youth work funded by Cheltenham Borough Council and direct support to individual Youth Clubs such as that run by the Charlton Kings Youth and Community Centre (CKYCC) trustees.
For many years in Charlton Kings, youth work services, essentially youth clubs for juniors and seniors, were provided by the KHYCC trustees with the financial support of the Parish Council, and by less formal youth clubs run by religious organisations especially the Baptist Church and Holy Apostles. In 2019, after many years of declining financial sustainability, the CKYCC youth service provider, Youth and Community Services, ceased trading, leaving no professional youth work services available in Charlton Kings. Almost since then, the Covid pandemic has created barriers to any form of youth work.
After just four months of the first Covid lockdown, there were serious behavioural problems from the young-teens age group, but thanks to Friends of Charlton Kings being willing to recruit and manage two professional young youth workers, employed by CCP (Caring for Communities and People), and funded by Charlton Kings Parish Council, the most extreme and damaging aspects of these behaviours were averted until the return to school in autumn term 2020.
The pandemic however persisted, with increasingly damaging effects on our young people's mental health and associated behaviours, as well as a groundswell of frustration, resentment, and anger from adult residents who saw these actions as an overt challenge to normal life.
As well as directly helping a small number of our most challenging young people in summer 2020, CK Friends gained many insights that are helping to shape our current thinking.
- Young people demand interaction in their own spaces
- What works for boys doesn't necessarily work for girls
- There are no short-term solutions: this is the future of a cohort of our young people, and their successors
- There are few statutory/legal levers that can be applied to the 12-15 age group. Keeping the most challenged out of the criminal justice system is a challenge in itself, but the police have few tools to work with or negotiate with young people who know that 'you can't touch me'.
- Trouble does not respect administrative boundaries. 'Posh' and well-off CK young people are seen as fair game by their peers elsewhere in Cheltenham, and drug pushing with associated violence or threat has changed our young people's lives.
- A proper Youth Club is top of their want list.
In this context, our parish and borough councillors started to develop ideas for creating a pan-Cheltenham youth service at the end of 2020. Brought to C5 in April 2021, the liaison Group between Cheltenham's five Parish Councils and the Borough Council agreed to progress the idea of constructing a common fund, supported by the Borough and Parish Councils and their partners, to commission a street-based youth service to operate as soon as possible in 2021.
A 'fighting fund' of £55 k was put together, organised by and with a significant financial contribution from the Borough Council, and with financial contributions of £5k from Charlton Kings, and Leckhampton with Warden Hill Parish Councils; together with major contributions from the Gloucestershire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, and Cheltenham Borough Homes. Other contributions are being sought.
Competitive interviews were held, on which our Parish Council's Clerk was a board member, to identify the preferred service provider. Inspire to Aspire was chosen, largely because of the impressive background, commitment, and knowledge of its CEO, Gemma Hall.
To provide local intelligence and stakeholder support to Gemma, a meeting of a new Charlton Kings Youth Work Stakeholder Group was convened on 15th July, bringing together representatives from Parish and Borough Councils, the neighbourhood policing team, churches, schools and individuals with special knowledge and skills. Based particularly on partners' experiences in running distraction events in summer 2021, a wide range of insights were shared, together with a great deal of local knowledge. Subsequent actions included:
- Continuing bilateral discussions to share information and experience
- CKPC committing to an autumn community open meeting focussed on addressing ways to support our young people
- Support to Friends of Charlton Kings in their work to moderate social media messaging, and potential for repeat 2020 engagement activities like BBQs
- CKPC, with its professional advisors, to deliver an engagement meeting with adult residents, to address a wider perception of what is perceived only as antisocial behaviour.
The group agreed that, as well as continuing to drive actions over the summer, it would reconvene in about three months.