It’s a cliché but young people are our future.

We know that a good start is the single biggest indicator of a successful life. It doesn’t matter what your talent, intelligence, physical ability, race, religion or sexuality, if you have opportunities and support from family, friends, teachers, youth or social workers you are far more likely to reach your potential - whether you are the next Michelangelo, Brunel, great mum, dad or friend. That network of help is invaluable and pays back many times to the individual and our communities. 

So, as Creative Youth Network sets out managing the new Targeted Youth Services in Bristol, we want to set out our vision for how to make this happen and what we see as our role in it. I'm not going to dwell on the 'motherhood and apple pie' of great education, sure start, good housing, access to services and opportunities. All of these things are right and worthy aims but there are gaps that many young people fall through meaning they don't have the support or opportunities to reach their potential. 

Organisational culture 

I've said this before in one of my blogs but I like it so much that I'll say it again - Culture eats strategy for breakfast! There are a thousand plans, pathways, services and initiatives to improve young people’s lot but they will count for nothing if we are not committed to meeting the needs of young people across the city. From the NHS nurse who delivers a child, to their first employer, we are all responsible for looking out for the youth of our city and we need to develop a new culture if we are to achieve our aim of every young person reaching their potential.

Consistency

Young People will walk their own journey; some on the rails and some off. All the projects and programmes we run help but often only when the time is right. So long term relationships are the bedrock to making sure young people succeed. If we walk the journey with young people beyond the end of education, the breakdown of family, the ‘12 week support programme’ and during their darkest hours, then, when they are ready to look to their future, someone is there to help guide them back.

Persistence

Even when people don’t want to talk to us we can keep the relationship going by never giving up on a young person. It’s making sure we keep in contact so they know we are there for them.

Be there when they come back

So many services are only available when something has gone wrong: youth offending, specialist education, social services - all do a great job but stop supporting young people when things look like they are getting back on track. We need services that support young people when things are getting better and walk that long and bumpy road to recovery with them.

As we roll out the new contract serving and supporting young people in our city I will be looking to embed this culture in everything we do.