#ulgc16 Conference supported a campaign to protect vital youth work services which have been devastated in recent years and are seen as an easy target for councils looking to make cuts.
Kate Ramsden from Aberdeenshire spoke in support of the motion and an amendment which called on the union to work with young people themselves to defend youth work services.
Kate shared the outcome of UNISON Scotland’s survey of youth workers as part of the Damage reports which echoed the national picture.
“Our youth work members, like those across the UK, work hard to support young people to achieve their full potential through developing specific skills and self esteem, self confidence and resilience.
“Morale amongst youth workers in Scotland, as in the rest of the country is at an all time low.”
She highlighted the danger that youth work faced as an easy target for cuts despite being lauded as highly effective and important service by the Scottish Government.
“Just earlier this year, Angela Constance, then Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning in Scotland welcomed research valuing youth work in Scotland at £656m, with a return of £7 for every £1 spent.
“Unfortunately these warm words have not been accompanied by appropriate funding to continue to deliver such a valuable service.
Kate said that she particularly wanted to support this amendment because it called on us in UNISON to work with young people themselves to protect services.
Kate urged, “If we can find ways to include their real experiences in the campaign to protect youth services, if we can help them to tell how youth services make a difference to their lives and what it will mean when those services aren’t there it will have a much bigger impact than us banging the drum.
“Young people’s voices are not only powerful, it is empowering for young people to be able to speak out and to be listened to.”
She pointed out that youth workers have all the skills to give children and young people a voice and as a trade union we can help magnify that voice to make sure it is heard by managers, decision makers and politicians.
Kate highlighted the dedication and values of youth workers in supporting young people and fighting for social justice.
“It is only the passion and commitment that brought our members into youth work in the first place that keeps them going – and for many who see the impact of cuts on the young people they are working with – that too is ebbing away.
“Youth workers have all the skills to give children and young people a voice and to enhance the campaign for properly funded, high quality youth work services which make a real difference to the lives of our most vulnerable children.”
Local Government Reports by Kate Ramsden, Marie Quigley and John Stevenson