Debate on youth clubs

We asked:- Are youth clubs still appealing to young
people in today’s UK or are there better ways of engaging and
inspiring teenagers?

Here are some of the comments we received.

“I work with a youth offending service.  Part of my job is
to undertake assessment interviews for referral order panels.  An
element of the assessment is to identify what constructive use they
make of their leisure time.  Identifying youth clubs in their
immediate area and their use of them is asked at each interview. 
It is very rare that a young person will admit to attending a youth
club at all, whether they are not attending or whether it is
something that is not ‘cool’ enough to admit to is unclear. 
However, it is a very small minority that appear to attend and get
something out of their time there.”

Susan Ruru

“Youth clubs are still appealing if they are able to
provide what the local youth community wants. This means talking,
involving and listening to the existing and potential users not
simply using published statistics on the wants and needs of young
people generally.”

Martin Cleverley

“In relation to the above, it is my view that youth clubs are
still attracting young people, the difficulties clubs now face is
the change of direction in terms of what they provide.  Youth
workers are being told to provide a varied programme which includes
looking at social and political issues alongside empowering young
people to have a voice.
Most young people who attend clubs still want to do sports and just
use clubs as a drop-in centre and what I have found over the years
the social and political debates do take place.”
Vernal Cooper
Children’s Guardian/FCA
Leicester Cafcass

“Youth clubs were never that appealing. I used to attend
one in the early nineties and we all used to end up migrating to
the local park because the youth club lost its appeal once we were
about 13 or 14.”

Lucy Smith
Mental Health Unit

“I am a student social worker and very interested in youth
work. As a result in January this year I started voluntary work at
a local youth club. For the ages 13-25 the youth club is open on a
Tuesday and Wednesday evening, nothing at the weekend. The
teenagers that attend are brilliant, they do get into trouble, but
in my eyes I don’t blame them!!
They are all what people call ‘hoodies’, it’s a fashion nothing
more, at their age I dressed as a gothic! The youth club offers no
activities at all, and because it’s held during the week the
teenagers are not a problem, it needs to be open over the weekend,
as they all go out to get drunk, they also end up in trouble.

Where we live is very quiet, apart from pubs and off-licences
there is nothing unless parents are willing to drive or pay for
them to go to the next town. A lot of the teenagers are from lower
income families so it’s difficult. What gets me the most irate is
the fact the youth club completely closes during school holidays,
surely that’s when youth clubs should be open more?

On the evenings I work it’s very difficult to start activities
as the leader isn’t particularly interested, so I started a debate
club, each week where we pick a topic to be discussed the following
week. Thankfully the club members think about the chosen topic and
come in on Tuesdays with a lot to say, it has worked but I wish I
could do actual activities!

On a positive note the teenagers are only charged 30p to attend
the youth club.”


PS- If anyone feels they can suggest something which may help,
feel free to e-mail me at


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