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4th November 2011, 11:31am
What sort of youth centres do young people really want?
Young person participates in outdoor activities Researchers from the University of Lincoln are asking young people how they would spend money on youth services if they controlled budgets.

The event, which takes place today (Friday 4th November 2011), is part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Festival of Social Science.

Politicians and local councillors all over the country are currently looking for the best way to allocate spending across services.

Fifty secondary school children from Lincolnshire will debate the question, ‘If young people had more choice and control over the money spent on youth services, would they set up traditional youth centres?’.
It comes after research by the University of Lincoln found that providing youth services helps prevent youth crime and engaging young people in shaping their future has a positive impact on their behaviour.

Today’s event, called ‘Listening to Youth’, aims to discover what types of youth services young people really want.  A group of schoolchildren aged between 12 and 14 will see the activities offered by a traditional youth centre, a multi-million pound lottery funded facility and a sports outreach service which makes use of local venues.

On returning to the University they will debate what they liked best, and which activities they would pay for if they were provided with a personalised youth budget.

Sue Bond-Taylor, Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Lincoln and lead researcher on the study, said: “It will be fascinating to see which youth activities the young people decide to buy. Will the smart building of the multi-million pound facility be intimidating to them or will the traditional youth centre be seen as old-fashioned or not cool enough? Perhaps they don’t need a building at all and would prefer an outreach service.”

Participants will have to decide which services should be prioritised and how to distribute the limited resources in support of Lincoln youth. The choices will inform the participating youth centres and findings will be presented to a member of Lincolnshire Youth Parliament, which helps set the strategic plan for services for young people.

“Young people are the most intensely managed age group in the country, yet they are the least consulted,” said John Bustin, event co-organiser and former manager of Lincolnshire’s Youth Crime Prevention Team. “The event will give us a snapshot of what young people think about the youth services that adults provide for them and about the value for money of these services. We may well be surprised!”

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