MICHAEL LILLEY

Taking Action

for Communities and Environment

Young people have to be our priority!

Source ? - Michael Lilley Mayor of Ryde presenting cheque £578,557 to Network Ryde team

Isle of Wight councillor calls for universal access to youth services (onthewight.com)

Isle of Wight youth service improvement calls | Isle of Wight County Press

Motion – Cllr Lilley – 19th July 2023 IW Full Council Meeting

Motion by Cllr Michael Lilley (Liberal Democrat) – IW Councillor for Ryde Elmfield and Appley, Chair of IW Council’s Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Health and Social Care, IW Council Mental Health Champion, Ryde Town Councillor, Trustee of IW Community Action and supporter of Network Ryde and Trustee of IW Youth Trust

IW Council resolves:

That every child and young person on the Isle of Wight should have accessible out of school youth service/provision that is of a consistent quality where ever they live on the Island.

That the Council as the Unitary Authority works with every parish, community and town council, youth organisations, and voluntary sector to ensure every child and young person has equality in access to a youth (out of school) service across the Island.

Young people have to be our priority!

The demographic make-up of the Island population is 140,000. 36% of the population are aged over 60 and only 18.4% are aged under 19. This compares with a national average of 24.2% over 60 and 23% aged under 19. The reality is percentage of older residents is going up and our children and grandchildren numbers are decreasing. We have to face up to this reality. We have no universities and about 40% of our 18 year olds leave to go to mainland for higher education and most only come back to visit. Our population aged 20 to 30 is only 9% (2021 ONS census). The in balance in ages has to be a priority concern and we need to invest in all our young and future generations.

32% of Island children live in poverty which is unacceptable!

Nearly a third (32%) children of the Isle of Wight live in poverty (2022) which is 10% increase from previous estimates. 23% school pupils are eligible for Free School meals and 25% qualify for pupil premium. The number of children living in care on the Island is 109 per 10,000 compared to the national average of 10,000. Levels of deprivation on the Isle of Wight have increased in the past 5 years. The Island is ranked 80 out of 317 local authorities in England. Since 2010, the Islands rank has dropped 26, and 2 since 2015. Mental health related hospital admissions on the Isle of Wight for those aged under 18 are 263.5 per 100,000. This is the highest rate nationally and more than three times the average 87.5 per 100,000 for England.

5 years since the previous Conservative Administration Cut Youth Services across the Island!

In 2018, the then IW Council Conservative Administration cut Island-Wide youth services to make savings. The average cost of one child in care on the Island is £100,000 per annum. It is a false economy to think any savings were made in 2018 when you study the reality of current youth statistics above on the Isle of Wight.  I fought this decision and voted against it as it was wrong.

I believe there is a connection with the level of increase negative health, social, poverty and educational indicators regarding young people since this disastrous decision was made. What happened is that a postcode lottery of service emerged with some Parish, Community and Town Councils on the Island along with the youth voluntary sector trying to fill the gap left with youth service closure. As a Ryde councillor I fought this decision and fought with others in Ryde for a new bespoke youth service paid by Ryde taxpayers. This service recently was recognised for a major Government investment for a new youth and community centre through the youth investment fund ( Network Ryde: A beacon of hope for young people | Youth Investment Fund ). Other areas have done similar things but some areas have no service. This is an unacceptable situation and needs reversing.

Youth Services and Youth Workers are essential to give young people a future!

Accessible and free out of school youth services are essential to the mental and physical well-being of our children and future generations. I quote one single parent mother in Ryde:

Ryde’s youth services provide out of school support for my   which I could not afford especially for one who has special needs. Without this youth service I would not be able to work and I would be forced onto benefits and my children would have little or no opportunities.”

It is hard to imagine but if this family collapsed and children ended in care, we are talking £300,000 per annum and if special needs are involved then this can mean anything up to a £1.4 million per annum per child. By putting the needs of our children as a priority we are saving money as well as not destroying lives. We are preventing, nurturing and giving young people a future of hope.

The World Health Organisation states: “Protecting adolescents from adversity, promoting socio-emotional learning and psychological well-being, and ensuring access to mental health care are critical for their health and well-being during adolescence and adulthood.”

Levelling up the most vulnerable communities

A recent Dutch longitudinal study highlighted the positive impact of youth work on socially vulnerable young people. Those who were recipients of youth work support for over six months had significantly more extensive support from their social network, participated more in society (such as volunteering), developed better social skills, and had more self-esteem. Moreover, those who had youth work support for over three years or more experienced more ownership and better future prospects.

The evidence and experience provided by IW Youth Trust and Network Ryde has shown that this Dutch research is correct. However, since 2018, it is a postcode lottery and every young Islander should have the right to equal opportunity and access to a youth worker and service.

I ask all IW Councillors to support this motion so we can start to reverse the 2018 decision through open dialogue with all stake-holders especially young people themselves. The majority of councillors are in the 38% of over 60s. We have a responsibility to make sure the 18% of under 19 year olds have a future or we have a grim future without them!

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