Home » News/Views » Youth services are out of service

Youth services are out of service

12 September 2023

The Ezra Collective, Mercury Prize Winners 2023. Photo Frolzart via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The government is in a desperate scramble to find funding for children and young people’s mental health services. But opportunities to be with their peers in a youth club making music or other activities could help to prevent such ill health in the first place. 

The annual Mercury Prize is awarded for the best album released by a musical act from the United Kingdom or Ireland. This year’s winners are the Ezra Collective from London, the first time a jazz band has won.

The award ceremony was significant for these words from bandleader Femi Koleoso, as he accepted the prize, “Most importantly Ezra Collective represents something very special because we met in a youth club.” 

That one sentence captured what has happened to youth services since 2010. It was a reminder that while it can be a special experience, it really shouldn’t be exceptional to be able to meet in a youth club. The opportunity should be available to every young person.


Local authorities in England and Wales allocated £1.4 billion to youth services in 2010-11. By 2018-19 this had declined to £429 million – a drop of around 70 per cent in real terms. And then came Covid. Access to a local authority youth club is now a rarity. 

The Ezra Collective were lucky enough to have access to a music youth group which meets at London’s South Bank Centre. It has some funding from The Arts Council and support from charities too .All its opportunities are free but it currently has a waiting list