City Year UK leads call for ‘decisive action’
The independent review into youth full time social action published its findings and recommendations today.
Whilst it looks to be lacking in-depth analysis and adding too little to the existing body of evidence, the findings do acknowledge that youth full-time social action plays an important role in meeting government priorities on social mobility, inclusion, careers education and skills development.
The review was announced in December 2016, following extensive lobbying by City Year UK, with the chair Steve Holliday announced in early 2017. It was set up to consider how to increase the number of programmes and participants and the merit of creating a legal status for full-time volunteers, similar to those already existing in the USA, France and Germany.
Leo Watson, public affairs manager at City Year UK, said: “The quality of the report is disappointing. Despite acknowledging that the Government should do more to support, encourage and recognise full-time volunteers, it hasn’t painted a broad enough picture of how youth full-time social action could be successful in a UK context.
“Whilst we at City Year UK hold firm that a legal status is the best way to provide support and recognition for full-time volunteers, the time has come for decisive action. We will work closely with the Government to build an enhanced evidence base by implementing some of the more practical recommendations made by Steve Holliday and the panel. In particular, establishing a youth full-time social action pilot scheme under the Department for Education’s ‘transition years’ initiative, building a more formal link with the National Citizen Service and securing government funding through the Dormant Accounts Fund.”
Dan Jarvis MP and supporter of City Year UK’s campaign, said: “I’m disappointed not to see a stronger report and more concrete recommendations in this review. Youth full-time social action benefits both the volunteers and beneficiaries and the Government needs to be more ambitious and build on the foundations laid by the National Citizen Service. The time has come to build up the UK’s youth full-time social action offer.”
Jess Phillips MP, said: “This Review must be the start and not the end of the process. While it’s disappointing that the Review has not felt able to currently recommend a legal status for full-time, there are recommendations I hope will be taken up immediately – particularly plans for a Government-backed pilot. I’ve seen first-hand the impact of full-time social action in my constituency and the volunteers simply must receive more support from the Government to help them carry out their vital roles.”
Rt. Hon Lord David Blunkett and Patron of City Year UK, said: “Whilst this report is disappointing in that it appears to have missed some overwhelming evidence of the beneficial impact, now is clearly the moment for the Government to take decisive action. The recommendations of the review, coupled with the evidence recently published by Pro Bono Economics demonstrating that a Government-backed full-time social action programme would be a net benefit to the UK, means that there can be no more excuse for inactivity from the Government. Evidence from the United States, Germany and elsewhere demonstrates the value of linking the initial experience through National Citizen Service to full time commitment up to a year in duration.”
City Year UK has been working with the Government and other charities to make the case for a supported programme of youth full-time social action since 2013, and the charity looks forward to continuing this work to establish a pilot scheme and build on existing evidence for stronger Government support.