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Making young minds matter: Reshaping support services for young people in the new Parliament

A Report by ResPublica for Barnardo’s

I sincerely welcome this policy paper from ResPublica, which astutely and incisively draws attention to the crucial role of support services for young people, and the organisations like Barnardo’s which deliver them, in building a country which can offer all our children a real prospect of happiness, health, and prosperity.

As we begin a new Parliament, there is an opportunity to reflect on the sort of society we hope to deliver for our young people as they enter adulthood. Despite the enormous bureaucratic and legislative challenges posed by Brexit and a hung Parliament, the new Government must not lose sight of nor lower its ambitions for its domestic programme.

This is particularly important for those vulnerable children and young people who are most in need of help from the state. It is they who will either flourish or falter as a result of the support we offer them now. Barnardo’s has long recognised this, having consistently championed the interests and protected the welfare of children for over 150 years. Today, we support over 270,000 children, young people, parents and carers every year – a figure we expect to see increase considerably in the years ahead.In January 2017, I heard the Prime Minister outline her assessment of the divisions and injustices in British society in a speech to the Charity Commission. Barnardo’s welcomes not just the ambition of this speech but also its choice of venue. Charities and government have a responsibility to work together to address important social challenges.

This paper is clear that without using the knowledge and resources of the voluntary sector, and especially at-scale organisations like Barnardo’s, Government will struggle to deliver on its vision. In particular, I strongly welcome the paper’s call for a new way of working between service commissioners and the voluntary sector, where we begin to co-produce the response to societal injustices.

The young people and their families supported by Barnardo’s know first-hand the “burning injustices” that government wants to address. Last year we launched our Corporate Strategy to 2025, outlining a blueprint for the long-term approach needed to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children. I am delighted that this paper echoes many themes found in our Strategy, and its recommendations offer valuable thoughts on how these themes might be put into practice.

This paper also sets out a clear-sighted picture of how the help we provide as a country to our most vulnerable children and young people will need to change in the coming years. I call on the institutions of national and local government to seize this opportunity and accompany us as we undertake the task of converting its ambitions into reality.