Opinion Former Article

ESRC: What sort of youth centres do young people really want?

Politicians and local councillors are currently looking for the best way to control spending across services. At an event as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Festival of Social Science, researchers will find out how young people would shape youth services in Lincoln.

Fifty secondary school children will debate the question ‘If young people had more choice and control over the money spent on youth services, would they set up traditional youth centres?’ Recent research at the University of Lincoln found that providing youth services helps prevent youth crime and by engaging young people in shaping their future it has a positive impact on their behaviour.

This event aims to discover what types of youth services young people really want. The group, aged between 12 and 14, will first see the activities offered by a traditional youth centre, a multi-million pound lottery funded facility called ‘Myplace’, as well as a sports outreach service which makes use of local venues. On returning to the university they will debate what they liked best, and which activities they would purchase if they were provided with a personalised youth budget.

“It will be fascinating to see which youth activities the young people decide to buy,” says Sue Bond-Taylor, the lead researcher of the study. “Will the smart building of the ‘Myplace’ youth centre be intimidating to them or will the traditional youth centre be seen as old-fashioned or not cool enough? Perhaps they don’t need a building at all and would prefer an outreach service?”

Their research shows there is no single factor or activity that can stop young people turning to crime. Instead, there are a wide range of interventions, from the availability of youth mentors to building young people’s self esteem, that help keep young people out of trouble with the authorities.

The event aims to empower young people in Lincoln. Participants will have to decide which services should be prioritised and how to distribute the limited resources in support of Lincoln youth. The choices will inform the participating youth centres and be presented to a member of Lincolnshire Youth Parliament, which helps set the city’s strategic plan for services for young people.

“Young people are the most intensely managed age group in the country, yet they are the least consulted,” points out John Bustin, co-organiser and former manager of Lincolnshire’s Youth Crime Prevention Team. “The event will give us a snap shot of what young people think about the youth services that adults provide for them and about the value for money of these services. We may well be surprised!”

For further information contact:
Sue Bond-Taylor
Email: sbtaylor@lincoln.ac.uk
Telephone: 01522 886402
Ian Richards, press officer University of Lincoln
Email: irichards@lincoln.ac.uk
Telephone: 01522 886042

ESRC Press Office:
Danielle Moore
Email: danielle.moore@esrc.ac.uk
Telephone 01793 413122

Jeanine Woolley
Email: jeanine.woolley@esrc.ac.uk
Telephone: 01793 413119

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. Youth services: listening to youth

Organiser: Sue Bond-Taylor, University of Lincoln

Date: Friday, 4 November 2011 9.00-15.00
Venue: University of Lincoln (also visiting Lincoln Youth Matters and The Showroom)

Audience: Suitable for young people

For more information: Youth services: listening to youth

2. This release refers to the findings from the ‘Youth Crime Prevention in Lincolnshire’ project funded by Lincolnshire Youth Offending Service and carried out by Sue Bond-Taylor and Peter Somerville at the University of Lincoln.

3. The research involved the analysis of 20 case files from Lincolnshire Youth Offending Service’s youth crime prevention team and 4 semi-structured interviews with officers from the team.

4. The Festival of Social Science is run by the Economic and Social Research Council which runs from 29 October to 5 November 2011. With events from some of the country's leading social scientists, the Festival celebrates the very best of British social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives - both now and in the future. This year’s Festival of Social Science has over 130 creative and exciting events aimed at encouraging businesses, charities, government agencies; and schools or college students to discuss, discover and debate topical social science issues. Press releases detailing some of the varied events are available at the Festival website. You can now follow updates from the Festival on twitter using #esrcfestival
5. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2011/12 is £203 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at www.esrc.ac.uk

More Articles by Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) ...

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