Young people: "Government doesn't want us to know our rights"

3rd October 2014 

Three-quarters of 15 to 25 year olds believe local Councils don't provide advice that is in young people's best interests and two-thirds believe the Government doesn't want them to know their rights and entitlements. These are some of the eye-catching findings from a national survey conducted by JustRights to inform a forthcoming young people's Manifesto on rights and advice services.

James Kenrick, Co-Chair of JustRights, said:

"Young people's cyncism about the attitudes of those in authority to their rights is deeply concerning. What is particularly troubling is that this cynicism seems to be borne out of real experiences of being let down at critical moments in their lives by the very statutory services that are supposed to be there for their protection. Many of the young people we spoke with in focus groups were scathing about the lack of respect for their rights shown by workers in local authority housing and social services departments. If young people are to grow into responsible adult citizens, it is imperative that they are supported to exercise their rights and responsibilities and receive the message that the law is there for their protection, not just their punishment."

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 78% of young people prefer using services that are aimed at young people and 94% believe that a good advice service has staff who are skilled at working with young people;
  • 80% believe it is important to get help with everything that's troubling you in one place and 96% believe a good advice service allows you to drop in and ask anything, or nothing;
  • Far more young people would feel comfortable approaching an advice service specifically for young people (81%) than a Citizens Advice Bureau (35%) or a solicitor (14%);
  • Only 9% would feel comfortable approaching a local authority advice service and 75% felt that "The Council's advice isn't always in young people's best interests";
  • JobCentre Plus was trusted by only 6% of young people and 65% felt "The Jobcentre doesn't give young people good advice";
  • Young people's favoured method of accessing advice is in person/face-to-face, although many wanted the option of online services and a smaller number also wanted the option of telephone advice. Choice was seen as essential, as all young people have different preferences and needs.

Read the full results of the survey in our report 'Young People's Views on Rights and Advice Services'

The Manifesto will be launched by young people at an event on 27th November. 

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Publication date: 
Thursday, October 2, 2014