Seven areas of focus for sustainable and responsive support services

A new briefing paper from Youth Access highlights seven recommendations to decision-makers to ensure high-quality youth services responsive to the specific needs of young people.

‘Now More Than Ever: Ensuring Sustainability and Expansion of Youth Support Services Post-Covid’ is the third and final briefing in the Generation Covid? series, examining the impact of the pandemic on young people and highlighting the need for sustainable support services.

Youth Information, Advice and Counselling Services (YIACS) that make up the membership of Youth Access have seen a surge in mental health conditions among young people during the pandemic, but often face financial and infrastructure challenges that create a barrier to providing sustainable support.

The report says: “Many youth information, advice and counselling services struggle to obtain the financial and infrastructure support they need to provide this vital work. 

“With a lack of dedicated, sustainable local funding, many Youth Access members are forced to ‘patchwork’ funding together to keep vital services running, while a lack of representation of young people and voluntary sector organisations in local decision-making prevents the kind of transformational local change that could see this model become the norm for mental health provision across the country.”

The briefing highlights seven key recommendations to ensure young people have access to the support they need:

  • Adequate, sustainable funding
  • Youth leadership to shape and guide services
  • Age-specific services for people up to 25
  • Jointly commissioned services to support the transition to adulthood
  • Investment in recruiting, training and retaining high-quality staff
  • Consistent and realistic practices for oversight and accountability
  • Support for services delivered by the voluntary sector

The findings of the briefing echo the core message behind Fund the Hubs, the joint campaign we are leading alongside YoungMinds, The Children’s Society, Mind, and the wider Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition.

Fund the Hubs calls for funding for a network of ‘early support hubs’ for young people across the country, providing easy-to-access early help for mental health.

Youth Access CEO Cassandra Harrison said: “The mental health impact of the pandemic among young people has exposed the gaps in the country’s youth advice and support provision.

“Youth Access members continue to do remarkable work as they support young people through this challenging period. We want to see their contribution recognised through sustainable resources and a commitment to ensuring access to early support hubs in every local authority area.”  

Earlier briefings in the three-part 'Generation Covid?' series are Generation Covid? and The Case Beyond Covid.

Read the report in full

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