Phil Street speaking in his personal capacity as retiring Manager of Young Solutions

phil retirepicI will be retiring as manager of Young Solution on 31st December 2017. I have been grateful for the opportunity to lead the charity since March 2010 and I will be sorry to say goodbye to so many good friends and colleagues. In the nearly 8 years I’ve spent at Young Solutions I have watched enormous changes, few for the better. However, despite cuts of unprecedented proportions l have been massively impressed by the resilience demonstrated by so many third sector organisations working with young people. I imagined that the devastating cuts in public expenditure would have witnessed large swathes of organisations being mowed down and left to die, but through re-structuring, reductions in expenditure and cutting pay and conditions the sector has remained, if not intact, at least functioning. I fear worse may come, but in the meantime the voluntary sector deserves nothing but admiration. What has happened at Young Solutions is a microcosm of the changes in the wider voluntary sector world.

Shortly after I arrived the June General Election of 2010 was a presage of draconian cuts in the public finances. We lost 84% of our revenue, cut staff numbers and reduced salaries. We had to refocus, reduce to a core and innovate. While maintaining our infrastructure work we focused more on work with disaffected young people. We introduced new projects, re branded and increased our emphasis on safeguarding. Around us has been carnage. Most youth infrastructure organisations across the nation have closed including the national umbrella organisation. Infrastructure organisations generally have experienced a torrid time, although the most savage effects of the government’s programme of austerity have been reserved for the statutory sector. I am sad and angered by the devastation of the statutory youth sector and of the wider effects of cuts to public services and the entirely detrimental impact of outsourcing.

I feel some perverse pride in Young Solutions helping some former statutory clubs converting to voluntary sector organisations and gaining the contract to deliver Worcestershire’s youth infrastructure work. This is outweighed by the appalling damage done to public services and the removal of support to young people. I feel sure the exponential increase in mental ill health amongst young people, the decline in their prospects and the isolation of large numbers of the young is due to a large extent to the termination of services to young people.

Going forward, who knows what the future holds for services for the young, but Young Solutions can at least pat itself, ever so modestly on the shoulder, congratulating itself on still being here. Doing work with disaffected youth, providing the Tryangle Awards, offering various services to its members, such as DBS checking and safeguarding training plus an annual training calendar and more. I leave Young Solutions much changed from the organisation I was delighted to join. My successor Pete Sugg, will undoubtedly ensure Young Solutions moves forward still further and to him and to all of you please accept my warmest fraternal greetings for the future.

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