With less than a month to go until the UK votes for its next government, YMCA has released its manifesto calling on political parties and candidates to deliver a new era for youth, with policies tailored to give each young person the opportunity to live their best lives.

Based on the aims and concerns of young people across England and Wales, YMCA’s manifesto outlines seven primary recommendations to help improve the lives of young people and their communities.

On top of restricted housing opportunities and financial uncertainty, young people are growing up during a period where youth crime, mental health difficulties and loneliness are at an all-time high, making prospects seem hopeless. With the government’s support, we can change these prospects to create a brighter future – a new era for young people.

With this in mind, recommendations in YMCA’s manifesto champion the fundamental basics of what all young people deserve, from having a roof over their heads to reliable income, quality healthcare and the opportunity to contribute to their community. In order to make this a reality, YMCA is calling on the next government to:

  • Ensure that in relation to Brexit, the needs and aspirations of young people are considered and protected for the future
  • Substantially reinvest in youth services so that all young people have access to quality support such as youth clubs and youth workers
  • Remove or minimise major barriers such as cost of rent, deposits and bills, to help ensure all young people have a home and the chance to live independently
  • Review the Universal Credit system and sanctions regime to properly support young people in need, ensuring a stable income for all
  • Help young people to thrive at work and provide for themselves by offering a real living wage and increasing support for entry into apprenticeship schemes
  • Ease the pressure on families and offer young people the best start in life by creating a fair and sustainable childcare system for all
  • Take a holistic approach to wellbeing, reducing the cost of physical activities and ensuring appropriate mental health care is in place and well resourced

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales, said:

“At YMCA we believe that every person should have the opportunity to live their best life. Having championed young people and communities for 175 years, we know first-hand what young people are going through and what the next government must do to in order to help them achieve this.

“Now more than ever, we need a government that will deliver for our country’s young people. If we want decision-makers to prioritise the interests of young people through policies that will positively impact their lives and prospects, it is imperative that their voices are heard loud and clear.

“Only with access to quality youth services, meaningful careers, financial stability, secure housing and holistic wellbeing support can a new era for youth become a reality.

“In order to make this happen, we must work together. As well as calling on the government, young people must also make their voices heard by registering to vote. By being informed on the policies of local candidates and having their say on polling day, young people can make an impact on the result of the election and help ensure that the decisions of the next government reflect what is best for them now and in the future.”

In addition to the manifesto, YMCAs across England and Wales will be holding hustings events over the coming weeks to engage young people in the political debate, and ensure their voices are heard in person.

YMCA is the oldest and largest youth charity in the world, founded in London in 1844. There are currently 116 local YMCAs providing youth and community work to more than 630,000 people across England and Wales.

For more information please visit www.ymca.org.uk/election