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YMCA calls for youth to be put first ahead of election

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With only four weeks to go until the UK votes for its next government, YMCA is calling on candidates across the political spectrum to “put youth first” with its election manifesto.

Inspired by discussions with young people across England, Scotland and Wales, YMCA’s manifesto brings together more than 40 recommendations that it believes will improve the lives of young people and communities.

Recommendations span access to housing, mental health support, jobs and education and highlight what matters most to the young people of the country in 2017. Among those put forward by YMCA England & Wales and YMCA Scotland are that the next government should:

  • Invest in early intervention mental health services for young people in schools and communities, including targeted campaigns that addresses the lack of knowledge and stigma surrounding mental health difficulties.
  • Ensure all students in school or college have access to careers information, advice and guidance delivered by professional specialists.
  • Abolish regulations that remove automatic entitlement to housing support for 18 to 21-year-olds.
  • Reclassify youth services as a statutory service, which will require each local authority to have in a place a youth services strategy.

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales, said: “YMCAs work in 740 communities across England and Wales and, as such, we know first-hand what young people are going through and what the next government needs to do to improve their lives and prospects.

“Young people have told us what must change to give them the best start in life and we call on the next government to sit up and listen. Without access to secure housing, meaningful careers, improved training and better mental and physical health support we fear this generation will be left behind as Brexit negotiations and policies to favour other age groups are prioritised.

“But in addition to this, young people must also stand up and make their voices heard by registering to vote ahead of the election. Only by looking in depth at the policies of local candidates and having their say on polling day can young people truly impact on the result and help ensure the decisions of future governments are reflective of what is best for them.”

YMCA is the oldest and largest youth charity in the world, founded in London in 1844. There are 116 local YMCAs providing youth and community work across England and Wales to more than 600,000 people.

In addition to the manifesto, YMCAs across England, Scotland and Wales are also holding hustings events over the coming weeks to engage young people in the political debate.

For more information on YMCA England & Wales, visit www.ymca.org.uk