Between the ages of six and nineteen I used to regularly attend two social / sporting clubs a week. Sometimes up to four evenings a week, I was out at one or other of these activities. I came from a not-well-off Working Class family, especially when my parents split up when I was eleven, so this isn’t some tale of a Middle Class family forking out lots of money so their young one could do nice things. No, the fees, such as they were, for joining these groups, was quite low.
But what they taught me was priceless and stays with me to this day. Being part of these organisations enabled me to make friends, to join in activities, to be part of the community, to stay on the straight and narrow, and to see a wider landscape of what I might achieve when I was older.
Of course what happens in school is important in terms of the course our lives take, but the impact and importance of out-of-school Youth Services, whether run by statutory agencies or charities, can and often do play a vital role in the overall well-being of our young people and therefore a determining factor in how they behave and perform when in the classroom itself.
Which is why it’s been so shocking and upsetting to see the near decimation of Youth Services in all too many parts of the Country in recent years and why myself and Linda Jack, among others, are calling for an assessment of where these services need restarting and reinvestment.