Bristol City Council has today (2 February) launched a city-wide consultation on the future of youth services in the city.
Bristol’s youth services are currently made up of nine different contracts that provide services to children and young people between the ages of eight and 19, particularly those in deprived areas of the city. These contracts are due to end in March 2018 when new ones will be signed with the successful youth service providers following a commissioning exercise.
The consultation asks providers, young people and members of the public what they think of the proposed future design of youth services. The model being consulted on retains a focus on deprived areas of the city and proposes sharing £3m funding across three areas (North, East/Central and South) based on levels of deprivation in each. It will ask providers to work in a more connected way to deliver co-ordinated services.
The consultation will run for 12 weeks until 27 April and can be found on the council’s online consultation hub.
The proposed new model will support children and young people across a range of areas and will be tailored based on the needs of the individual and where they live. Help ranges from advice and guidance on accessing education, employment and training, support around sexual health and drugs and alcohol, and providing activities that help develop confidence and relationship building with peers.
Also proposed will be a contract to stimulate the wider youth sector and respond to rising demands and needs. The provider of this contract will be tasked with working in partnership with organisations across Bristol to help sustain a universal offer of youth and play services.
The final element of the proposed model is an online information, advice and guidance service, which forms part of the current offering and includes three online portals; Go Places to Play, Rife Magazine and Rife Guide.
Councillor Clare Campion-Smith, Cabinet Member for People, said: “Providing these services is a vital part of the council’s role in supporting, developing and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of Bristol’s children and young people. Despite government funding cuts we remain committed to ensuring that these opportunities are available to young people in need of support or advice. Recommissioning these contracts will secure vital services for the next five years so it is essential that we understand the needs of Bristol’s children, young people, parents and providers.
“We recognise that council commissioned youth provision represent only a small part of what’s on offer for children and young people across Bristol. Much of the work being carried out in Bristol is undertaken by voluntary & sports clubs, church and community groups, scouts, arts and theatre projects. Without their vital contribution Bristol would be a much less stimulating place for many children and young people.
“Against this diverse backdrop of voluntary and charity organisations we want these new contracts to also help foster an environment where organisations are more able to work together to provide the things that children and young people need. As the face of local government in Bristol changes we hope that these contracts will enable organisations to continue delivering successful youth projects in Bristol.”
The current consultation comes as Bristol City Council is preparing to finalise a budget that includes provision of funds for future youth and play services including targeted support contracts. A final decision on these funds will be made at a meeting of Full Council on 21 February.
Developing the contracts that will be awarded in 2018 will be a collaborative exercise between the council, youth and play service providers and young people in the form of recently appointed Youth Commissioners. This is the first time the council has involved young people in this way as part of a commissioning process. The role of the young commissioners will be to advise on the form the services take and the detail contained within the specifications.
Tuba, one of the Young Commissioners working with Bristol City Council, said: "It's exciting to be a part of the Young Commissioners and work closely with Bristol City Council to have a say in the future of youth services in the city and be able to make a real impact to my surroundings. I feel that I have already learned a lot about the commissioning process, which is really interesting, and I am always made to feel comfortable to ask any questions I have. Working as part of a group with young people of all ages and from different backgrounds and having to reach sometimes difficult decisions together makes the whole process more enjoyable. Through my experience so far, I feel I have developed important skills in teamwork and using negotiation to resolve conflict, which will hopefully be useful to me at university and beyond."