A SPECIAL conference was held at the University of Cumbria to discuss the challenges faced by those working in the youth and community sector.

Groups gathered to highlight the importance of youth and community work and students, councillors and other organisations, each had a chance to give key points on what is needed and what is working in the area.

For the students, they had the chance to find out if there was a future for them, at the panel meeting it was said there was no funding for the work. For a lot of the students, it raised a red flag.

The audience was encouraged to asked the panel questions about the vocation and were shocked to hear how bad funding was.

Student, Charlotte Murphy, 20, who is studying working with children and families, said: “It has been quite interesting and finding out there is actually money going into youth work in specified areas has been really important.

“I have found there is a lot that I want to have a look into on my own now and find out a little more.

“Working with vulnerable children is amazing. Being able to watch them change as you work with them is an amazing feeling.”

Community development officer Niall McNulty said: “This conference was set up to really raise the profile of youth and community work across Carlisle. It was also set up to show what a difference it makes to people.

“We have heard stories about what a difference it has made to people.

“The great thing about this is the number of students that have actively got involved and hopefully they will leave feeling part of something that can make a life-changing difference to other people.

“It has shown that there is a chance to work in this area with the youth and community.

“Funding is well document and there are challenges with it.

“How funding is made available has to be discussed. There is funding for projects, you have to look for it.

“There is not enough funding for general work, hopefully, that will change and we will be able to move forward.”

On the same course is student, Sharon Jones, 44, from Cockermouth who is passionate about working with young children

She said: “I’m focused on early intervention with children.

“I’m really passionate about helping while they’re really young.

“I find it really sad that there is such deprivation and so many are struggling.

“They’re coming through the system and growing into young adults with mental health problems.

“When the youth projects have declined, mental health problems have gone up.

“It just shows that we need the services.”