If we don't deal with it soon, you end up having a damaged generation - Local MP talks about youth provisions
By Acacia Redding
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, has expressed his enthusiasm to bring focus to youth projects in his constituency. With one in eight 5-19 year-olds having suffered from a mental health disorder in their lifetime, the Labour MP is adamant that youth services can be a key part of the solution in tackling the dire situation.
MPs, such as Lloyd, have noted an overwhelming lack of engagement among young people themselves, with Peacehaven being used as a prime example. While the inclusion of marginalised groups is of huge importance, some acknowledge the potential barriers specific outreach can create.
Russell-Moyle says: “Because of the way fundings work, there is a legal duty to reach out to certain groups of people with particular needs, which is quite right. But if you don't also cater for the general need the specified services become stigmatised.”
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, among others, suggests reform focusing on youth engagement in communities nationwide as well as increased funding to community projects. He says: “If you don't get young people feeling that they're part of a community, they often won't feel like they're part of a community for the rest of their life”.
The Labour MP has suggested a bill in parliament looking to establish youth boards across the country. The bill aims to connect young people, parents, youth workers and councils, ensuring that open access is available to local communities.
He says: “At the moment, councils cannot run youth services and that needs to change. Open access youth services for all with registered qualified youth workers is a basic standard.”
While Russell-Moyle has low hopes for significant change under a Conservative government, he views youth project development as a cross-party issue. He has liaised with the likes of Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield, and has plans to visit nationwide services with politicians across the country.
With heightened pressure in schools, growing mental health rates and increased youth delinquency for those in vulnerable areas, Russell-Moyle sees youth work as a primary agenda.
He says: “If we don't deal with it soon, you end up having a damaged generation who have long-term mental health problems, and who have long-term issues around self-esteem and self-control.”
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