On Thursday January 28th , young people and youth work representatives grilled party candidates at an online election hustings hosted by the Council of Wales of Voluntary Youth Services (CWYVS)
The candidates present at the husting were Leena Farhat – Liberal Democrat; Amanda Jenner – Welsh Conservative; Kevin Pascoe – Welsh Labour; Anthony Slaughter – Green Party; Dr. Elin Walker Jones – Plaid Cymru.
Paul Glaze introduced the CWYVS manifesto which focuses on a rights-based approach to youth work, advocating for inclusive, accessible support and challenging inequalities in the service. Keith Fowler, Chair of the Interim Youth Work Board, wholeheartedly supported the manifesto, acknowledging the valued work voluntary youth work organisations do, despite the extreme pressure from funding cuts and high demand for services throughout the pandemic. He echoed that access to the opportunities and services is an entitlement Wales is failing to provide currently.
Young people wanted to know if politicians were really listening and creating manifestos reflecting their the needs, and with due consideration of the new 16 – 17 year old voters. Questions were also asked about the closure of youth centres and how to ensure that youth work and services for young people receive an equitable share of the UK Government’s proposed Shared Prosperity Fund.
Dan Townsend from Youth Cymru said, “Don’t forget the Plus in Erasmus+”.
When asked how they would ensure those with fewer opportunities be included in any new scheme proposed to replace access to the Erasmus+ and ESC programmes, all candidates regretted the decision not to continue with Erasmus+. They thought the proposed new scheme was too narrow and confirmed they would advocate that all young people could access opportunities.
Candidates focused on students (also the focus of the proposed Turing Scheme) and seemed not to be fully aware of the breadth of programmes, especially the opportunities for young people not in higher education and for youth workers and trainers.
Written by Gill Peace, Operations Manager