Press release

Opening doors for young disabled people to engage in youth work

A new Ofsted survey finds that more needs to be done to ensure disabled young people can access local youth work provision.

The survey report highlights where more could be done in the planning of youth services for disabled young people within a local area. It is intended to serve as a guide to local authorities and providers to identify the key factors that make schemes successful and adapt local provision accordingly.

The reported proportions of disabled young people who access local authority youth work provision were low. Inspectors found that some disabled young people were not known to local authorities so were potentially missing out on the services on offer.

National Director for Learning and Skills, Matthew Coffey:

This survey indicates there is a worrying lack of planning in relation to the commissioning of youth services for disabled young people. Initiatives to increase access to youth work are provided through a complex network of local authority services and charities. What is clear is that better planning of services in relation to local need and better training for adult workers and volunteers would ensure more young disabled people benefit from the opportunities and support that youth work affords.

Despite this fairly negative national picture, there are examples of local authorities and providers delivering hugely effective programmes of support that have a beneficial impact on the lives of young disabled people. The best support we saw focused on developing young people’s personal, social, political and work-related skills and aptitudes.

While the government does not prescribe which services and activities for young people should be funded by the local authority, statutory guidance requires local authorities to secure access to youth work. This means some local areas see access to youth work for disabled people as a more of priority than others.

The survey noted some good planning where charities and voluntary organisations worked well together to provide for young disabled people in their leisure time. Overall, however, the report highlights inconsistencies across regions. The best local arrangements involved the local authority, charities and the voluntary sector working together and sharing expertise. Indeed, inspectors reported this mix was fundamental as it was a way of getting the best from the diminishing resources dedicated to youth work.

The report also found that many adult workers and volunteers who support young disabled people in their youth work could also be given more opportunity for further training.

Notes to editors

  1. As well as the report there are a number of other documents including discussion materials in the 4 critical issues identified and good practice case studies.

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Published 31 January 2013