The recent upturn in crime, in particular knife related crimes, is undoubtably very sad and concerning, but comes as no great surprise.

YMCA North Tyneside is a community organisation with a focus on young people. We have been serving our community for 140 years this year and we are still as passionate about creating a healthy, happy and connected community now as we were the day we were formed.

Over recent years we have banged the drum around young peoples engagement, the cuts to young peoples services and the fall out around these cuts. The cuts around youth services, schools, alternative education, supported accommodation, to name but a few all contribute to society; anti social behaviour, petty crime and now fatal crime – these are all an output from the neglect young peoples services have received over recent years.

Now is not the time to politicise these issues, now is not the time to jump on the bandwagon. Now is the time to come together, to understand the issues and to release the resource required.

Where we have been able to continue our focused young peoples work in needed community areas; some would call this ‘good old youth work’, has undoubtably seen positive results; all backed up by statutory partners including the police.

Youth services has become the ‘go to’ budget for cuts as local authorities do not recognise the long-term benefits to young people, YMCA has warned, after an analysis shows spending across these services in England and Wales has fallen by 61% over the past six years.

YMCA North Tyneside along with YMCA England & Wales recently released its analysis of local authority spending on youth services across the country, revealing it had reduced by more than £750m since 2010/11 across England and Wales.

YMCA’s ‘Youth & Consequences’ analysis showed that 2011/12 saw the most significant cuts in England with a reduction of more than a quarter (26%) of funding to youth services taking place in just one year, with no sign of relenting. Last year alone, local authority spending on youth services reduced by £80m, which is equivalent to a 15% reduction on the previous year.

The work we have been able to continue to deliver has only been possible with the help and funding of like minded trusts and charities, which, whatever the size, have seen the value and have empathy around understanding the need.

It’s fair to say that whether it be government, local authorities or any other pertinent body, ‘choices’ have been made. Yes, austerity has hit and has hit hard, you don’t need to tell a charity like us that. However, the money and resource that has been made available, not withstanding the statutory duties that need and should be carried out, have all been made by ‘choice’. One of those choices was to decimate youth services and other related young peoples work that delivered early intervention and prevention work.

We need this to be reviewed and we need action now. 

We need statutory and voluntary charities that have the resource, expertise, will, determination, vision and mission to come together and put young peoples work and engagement back at the top table. 

We need to help transform our communities and help transform the environment that individuals and groups belong to believe it is one where all can Belong, Contribute and Thrive.

Dean Titterton – CEO YMCA North Tyneside