Waterside Centre Basketball

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Champions of Youth Work Conference

31 January 2022

Yesterday, we welcomed around 50 attendees to Waterside Centre for our Champions of Youth Work Conference.

From all backgrounds – including youth workers, volunteers, funders, local authorities and young people themselves – everyone was there to lend their support to championing Berkshire’s young people and to explore ways for us to work together to achieve the very best for them.

We were delighted to be joined by Leigh Middleton, CEO of The National Youth Agency, who delivered an insightful keynote speech re. the National Youth Work Strategy and the current situation for youth services. Leigh told the attendees that youth work is on the rise, with 5M individuals engaging with Youth Work Week in 2021, compared to 3M in 2020. Although there is less and less resource in the South for young people, Leigh gave an optimistic and realistic view for the future of youth work as he continues to meet with government ministers and civil servants on behalf of the UK’s young people. He finished his speech with the call to all attendees to: “Get organised and get involved to help young people!”

Attendees also enjoyed speeches from Berkshire Youth’s David, Sarah, Kelly and Jessica, as well as moving speeches from young people, Ellis and Dennis, who spoke from the heart about the direct and positive impact our youth workers have had on their lives. Everyone was very impressed with them and couldn’t help be moved by their words. Who could put it better than Dennis: “Everyone had given up on me except Colin!” [Youth Worker, Berkshire Youth]

Further discussions flowed, including people’s experiences over the past 18 months, growth mindset, what the future might look like for young people and how we can best help and champion them. Before leaving, each of the attendees wrote down their pledge to young people and a piece of good news concerning young people which we will share across our social media over the coming weeks using the hashtags: #ChampionsofYouthWork, #YouthPledge2022, #YouthWorkWorks, #YoungPeopleMatter, #YouthEmpowerment and #YouthWork. We shall be back again next year to review how everyone has got on with their pledges to young people.

We would like to thank Greenham Trust for supporting this event which was a great chance to get everyone together in person to discuss these very important issues.

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