Youth charities urged to apply for share of £368m funding pot for disadvantaged areas

Charities and council youth services are being invited to bid for a share of £368m funding announced by the government to improve skills, health and opportunities for young people in underserved areas.

The funding is being targeted at 45 council areas and more than 600 wards in the most deprived areas of the UK.

It aims to refurbish 300 youth clubs and facilities over the next three years, including a focus on supporting young people’s employment prospects.

The funding has been made available through the Youth Investment Fund and forms part of a National Youth Guarantee that pledges to ensure young people have access to regular out of school activities.

But the funding announcement follows cuts of more than £1bn in youth investment over the last decade. This equates to real terms fall of 74%, according to analysis published by the YMCA in December 2021.

Charities and youth minister Nigel Huddleston said the government is “committed to ensuring that no young person is left out of reach or left behind”.

An initial £12m of government funding to improve youth services was fast-tracked earlier this year and handed to more than 400 projects. A focus was on small scale capital investment such as on providing laptops as well as small redevelopment of buildings and improving transport links.

This included a grant of more than £32,000 to IMO (Inspire, Motivate, Overcome) Charity in Blackburn and Darwen to fund a new Youth Hub for young people impacted by mental health challenges and poverty.

The Fund is being delivered by the National Youth Agency, Key Fund and Resonance as well as Social Investment Business (SIB).

“High quality, universal youth provision supports all young people to have somewhere safe to go, to socialise and learn new skills, with a trusted adult who is skilled and trained to support them,” said National Youth Agency chief executive Leigh Middleton.

“This provides much needed investment for youth centres and dedicated spaces for young people to go in their communities, as part of the government’s National Youth Guarantee.

“Working with SIB, youth sector partners and young people directly, our shared aim is to ensure the funding enables high quality youth work which will have the best outcomes for young people, and for communities to thrive.”

SIB chief executive Nick Temple said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to prioritise the needs of young people in England and create a more equal society for future generations.”

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