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Dave who provides training, supervision and support with safeguarding audits, also has another role in Youth Work.  Below, he shares a recent reality he was faced with.

The cost of living is a significant concern for many families across the UK. As we move further into 2023, the reality of this crisis is becoming increasingly clear. The impact on young people is particularly concerning, with many unable to access the basic necessities they need to thrive.

I recently met with Mike, a 12-year-old boy, who highlighted some of the challenges facing young people in today’s society. We caught up on what he’d done over the weekend, we played Uno, and talked about the latest hard to get drink, something called Prime that has been made famous by the Youtubers KSI and Logan Paul. I’ve just had a look and there is a bottle on ebay for £500! What the Heck?!

Mike told me that he doesn’t do much with his weekends, he just bums around with his friends on scooters. He said that he used to enjoy going fishing with his Dad most weekends, but he can’t anymore because his family doesn’t have the money. I was interested to know whether either of his parents’ job situations had changed recently, but Mike said that both his parents had done the same jobs for years. His Dad fixes ovens, and his Mum works in a supermarket. However, Mike revealed that he’d heard his parents discussing money and the need for his Dad to pick up lots of overtime. Mike told me that his Dad can no longer afford the £70 yearly fee it costs to fish at their local lake. Dad also has less time to spend with Mike, whether fishing or otherwise, because of the overtime he is doing at work. This is a heart breaking situation for any family to be in, and it highlights the harsh reality that many young people are facing.

This morning I took an awful phone call from my line manager to inform me of an incident last night between two of the older teenagers I work with. One had been stabbed outside the local fast food restaurant, allegedly by the other, and is currently in hospital.

This is of course heart-breaking for the families directly involved, and will spread fear and anxiety throughout the local area. It also got me thinking about Mike, a young person who is beginning to get involved in minor anti-social behaviour, and I worry that the more time he spends on the streets the greater his vulnerability to negative influences, exploitation and violence such as that which occurred outside the fast food restaurant last night.

Young people need food, shelter, and warmth, but they also need connection, relationships and a sense of belonging. With families like Mike’s who are working flat out to provide him with sustenance and a warm home, I worry that the emotional and social needs of many young people like Mike, are sadly not being met.

Unfortunately, the effects of the cost of living crisis extend far beyond family time. As I learned this morning, incidents of violence are also on the rise, with young people becoming increasingly vulnerable to negative influences, exploitation, and violence. This creates a challenging environment for young people to grow up in, and it is important that we take steps to ensure that they are protected and supported.

In addition to these basic needs such as food, shelter, and warmth, young people also require emotional and social support. Without this, they are at risk of becoming disconnected, isolated, and vulnerable to negative influences. It is vital that we recognise the importance of emotional wellbeing and provide young people with the support they need to thrive.

Within education we recognise the importance of working with young people to ensure their safety and wellbeing. We understand the challenges facing families and young people in today’s society, and we are committed to providing support and guidance to those who need it most.