As 2019 draws to an end we can look back and reflect on the year we’ve had.
After years of cutbacks and effectively being omitted from the policy arena at national, regional and local level, growing levels of anti-social behaviour, youth violence and knife crime alongside the tragic loss of young lives to knife related incidents across the country, have led to the needs of young people again being taken seriously by policy makers.
This year has seen various government departments making available a myriad of funding pots to address youth issues, in particular youth violence and knife crime. Some of the funding has been targeted at the public sector but some at the voluntary sector. In many cases, timescales for applications and delivery have been too short to enable many local organisations to fully benefit from these opportunities. A case in point was the Youth Endowment Fund, a 10 year funding pot that came out in the late summer. Targeted at reducing youth violence, applicants had less than 6 weeks to put in an application and 6 months to make a minimum spend of £100k. Unsurprisingly, we are not aware of any group voluntary or public working in Walsall Borough that was successful in securing any funding from this pot.
In response to the issues around accessing funding such as the Youth Endowment Fund (and in the knowledge that future tranches of funding would be made available over the next 10 years), One Walsall, through its 0-19 Providers Forum, decided to take a strategic approach and undertook a piece of work to look at youth violence. Using a Theory of Change methodology, (one of the pre-requisites of the Youth Endowment Fund) we have mapped out (based on sector input) the inputs in a young person’s life that provides them with the knowledge and resilience that steers them away from being drawn into groups, and a mindset whereby violent behaviour is seen as acceptable or needed.
We are currently mapping sector provision against these inputs to understand the resources currently available to young people.
The government announced in the Chancellors Autumn spending review that £500m would be made available over the next three years to bolster the youth sector. This is to be targeted across three main development areas;
- Capital funding for the development of new ‘Youth Zones’
- Capital funding for the refurbishment and adaptations of existing youth venues
- Revenue funding to support youth programme delivery
We are still waiting for details as to how the funding will be allocated against the identified priorities and the timescales as to when the funding will be made available.
There is talk of the creation of new ‘Youth Partnerships’. The geographical areas around which these will be created eg regionally, local authority based etc is not clear but it does appear that the balance of power in the relationship between public sector partners and the voluntary sector across the youth sector will change, with the voluntary sector being given a more prominent voice.
After years of neglect investment has recently been made in developing the skills of Youth Sector workforce with bursaries being made available for those people wanting to undertake youth work training. It is anticipated that investment in this area will continue to grow over the next few years.
What can we look forward to in 2020?
One Walsall through its 0-19 providers forum will continue with its work around Youth Violence. We will;
- look to bring VCSE organisations together who deliver similar inputs, to look at potential for greater collaboration and efficiency in delivery.
- Increase promotion and awareness of what VCSE services are available to young people and their families.
- Identify where there is a shortfall and / or and gaps in provision for young people, and work with local providers and funders to address these needs.
- Engage with young people at a borough level to identify user needs, which can then be shared across the sector.
One Walsall, through the 0-19 Providers Forum, will lobby make sure that the sector is fully engaged as and when the new youth Partnership structures are developed locally and that the VCSE are fully embedded in any future partnerships.
One Walsall will ensure that information is made available to the sector as and when funding opportunities become available, and we will offer support to local groups either individually or as part of local partnerships to put together future funding bids.
One Walsall’s 0-19 Provider Forum meets regularly throughout the year, typically bi-monthly. It aims to bring providers together to engage public sector partners around development and implementation of local policy, opportunities for partnership working and networking with peer groups. Details of future meetings can be found on our website and in our fortnightly e-bulletin. Click here to subscribe.
2020 has the potential to be a year of opportunity for those organisations working in the youth sector. By working together, we can make sure that come the end of 2020 we can reflect on a year of success and not a year of missed opportunities.