Shake up for Blackpool youth services after teenagers brand them 'boring'

A review of Blackpool's youth services has found many youngsters fail to attend activities because they perceive them as "boring".

By Shelagh Parkinson
Friday, 10th June 2022, 9:45 am

While younger children join youth groups, attendance declines after the age of 14 especially among teenage girls.

Now Blackpool Council, which commissioned the review, hopes to use the results of a town-wide survey of seven to 25-year-olds to shape better services for the future.

The review, carried out by the National Youth Agency and Youth Focus North West, is recommending a co-ordinated resort-wide strategy and that young people should play a leading part in its implementation.

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A town hall report is recommending a shake up of youth services

Provision should be available throughout the town within a 15 minute walk of any young person's home.

The review also found youth workers were under-resourced with many parents saying they could not afford to send their children to activities.

The report says: "When reasons for not attending youth centres were explored in the focus groups, there was a perception that they were ‘boring’, and the resources and facilities that were available within them were unappealing.

"This was a prominent view with the participants who were 16 and over."

The council cut back its £600,000 youth services budget in 2013/14 after having to find £14m of savings, and established a Youth Fund of £250,000, to plug the gap.

The report says at one point council spending on young people dropped to £12 per head from £150.

Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said: "Our children and young people are an absolute priority, how we can support and enable them to be happy and flourish is so important.

"One of my first decisions as leader was to ensure that a review of the services available to our children and young people was undertaken.

"Most importantly, to ask them what they wanted and where they wanted it to be."

Youth services are seen as vital to preventing juvenile crime, with figures showing Blackpool's inner wards including Bloomfield, Claremont, Talbot and Brunswick having the greatest concentration of youth anti-social behaviour.

Leigh Middleton, chief executive at the National Youth Agency, said: "Effective, high quality youth work can enhance young people’s life chances.

"It offers young people safe spaces to explore their identity, experience decision-making, increase confidence, develop interpersonal skills, and think through the consequences of their actions.

"The review of Blackpool youth provision has highlighted the need to involve young people in the design and decision-making of youth services offered in Blackpool. "

Andrew Speight, of Blackpool Youth Council who took part in the review, added: "I call for young people to be continually involved in the implementation of its suggestions, primarily through the methodology of co-production."