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Why we need better youth facilities

This is an article for the South Wales Evening Post

When I read last week that there one of the political parties is proposing to introduce legislation in England to guarantee "quality youth services for all young people", I was reminded of my own attempt as an Assembly Member to do the same in Wales back in 2008.

My private members bill would have made it a statutory requirement for local authorities to provide facilities and support for young people, funded by the Welsh Government.

Unfortunately, my bill was voted down by the Government at the first attempt and promises by the Minister to produce detailed guidance for councils petered out. Now, because councils don’t have that duty, youth support and facilities become easy targets for cuts and have been largely decimated.

Young people need to be treated with respect and trusted to fill their own leisure time. But in my view, it is the role of local councils to provide facilities so those same young people can fulfil their potential, learn how to interact with others and take responsibility for their own lives.

The benefits of this approach can include increasing confidence and competence among marginalised children and young people and the greater involvement of young people and other local residents in positive community-based activity.

Many communities are crying out for better facilities to enable young people to use their energy constructively. In my view the Welsh Government should have acted in 2008 when I introduced my private members bill. Perhaps they will pick up this particular cudgel now.

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