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Government opens £368m Youth Investment Fund to improve facilities & services

Youth services in the country’s most underserved areas are being encouraged to apply for a slice of a £368 million fund to improve the health, wellbeing, skills and opportunities for young people.

Earlier this year £12 million from the fund was fast-tracked to local youth services where supply was short of meeting demand.

The aim was to cover small-scale capital improvements such as providing new laptops to youth groups, small redevelopments of buildings and facilities, and improving transport, such as providing a new minibus for a youth club so they can keep young people safe and extend activities beyond their local area.

The Youth Investment Fund, designed to create, improve and expand local youth facilities and services, is now open for bids from 45 local authorities and more than 600 district wards in some of the most deprived areas in England.

It will provide funding to build or refurbish up to 300 youth facilities over the next 3 years, providing safe spaces in which young people can socialise and participate in a wide range of activities, including those designed to help support them into employment.

The funding forms part of the Government’s ‘National Youth Guarantee’ to ensure every young person right across England will have access to regular out of school activities, adventures away from home and opportunities to volunteer backed by a £560 million investment.

The guarantee also includes offering The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to every state secondary school for the first time, as well as increased access to social action projects or the opportunity to meet new people and learn life and work skills like money management or public speaking skills through the National Citizen Service.

Minister for Civil Society and Youth Nigel Huddleston said: “We are committed to ensuring that no young person is left out of reach or left behind, and have put it at the heart of our drive to level up this country. I encourage eligible youth services to apply for this life-changing funding.”

Nick Temple, CEO, Social Investment Business said: “All young people deserve access to high-quality youth services and great youth facilities to thrive in life, but youth provision across the country is sadly unequal. That’s why we’re proud to be able to apply our 20+ years’ knowledge and experience of grant programmes and capital projects to design, manage and deliver the Youth Investment Fund.

“Working alongside our partners National Youth Agency, Key Fund and Resonance, we’ll enable up to 300 youth facilities to be built or refurbished over the next three years. This is a wonderful opportunity to prioritise the needs of young people in England and create a more equal society for future generations.”

BBC Children In Need was the grant administrator for the first phase of the Youth Investment Fund and distributed funding to some 418 eligible youth projects in the most in-demand areas which included:

  • The Community Court Yard in Northampton, a social enterprise delivering traditional youth work, bespoke alternative education and creative workshops based on the youth work curriculum. It was awarded a grant of more than £44,740 to fund a vehicle for detached youth work, gaming booth equipment, CCTV and the refit of the gym area. It will help build positive behaviours and communication skills for disadvantaged young people.
  • IMO (Inspire, Motivate, Overcome) Charity in Blackburn and Darwen, which aims to help local young people and their families to combat disadvantage and overcome challenges they face. The grant of £32,155, has funded equipment and furnishings for a new Youth Hub which will provide programmes, activities and a safe environment for young people who struggle at school with their mental health and who are in poverty.
  • Brunswick Youth and Community Centre in Bootle, which provides a wide range of activities for young people, received £10,325 of funding to update a community garden space for the youth community centre. It will help promote wellbeing and healthy eating programmes for young people facing mental health challenges and/or at risk of exposure to gang culture.

Leigh Middleton, CEO, National Youth Agency said: “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.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Social Investment Business on the design and delivery of the Youth Investment Fund. 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.”

Higher Education estates turnover reaches record £30 billion…

An annual report released by the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) has revealed the university estates sector grew by £2 billion in the 2014-2015 academic year, with annual turnover for the whole of the UK now equating to £30 billion.

Despite what is considered a challenging funding environment, the ‘Higher Education Estates Statistics Report 2016’ details the evolving profile of the university estate. Capital expenditure grew by 5.6 per cent across the UK, which AUDE predicts is driven by investment as the sector continues to improve with the knowledge that staff members and students expect high quality and attractive facilities.

Expansion of university estates was also acknowledged. Individually, the universities of Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford, Edinburgh and Nottingham all have academic estates in excess of 500,000 square metres, excluding residential accommodation.

Trevor Humphreys, AUDE chair and director of Estates and Facilities at the University of Surrey, said:Universities have been through a period of significant upheaval and the sector should be commended on its robust management and efficiency strategies, which continue to serve it well.

“However, the future remains uncertain as we try to plan for the impact of the HE White Paper currently going through Parliament. Brexit is also likely to affect our student demographic, our workforce, our costs, as well as research funding.”

Total property costs have also remained relatively level for the past six to seven years, moving from £95 to £98 per square metre, indicating that the sector is committed to driving efficiency.

AUDE: Effective estate management ‘key to HE standards and student experience’…

In conclusion of a new study commissioned by the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE), two-thirds of the 2,000 university students surveyed agree that an educational institution’s facilities is crucial to choosing a place of study; making it the third-year where libraries and IT hubs came out on top and beating facilities such as entertainment and social establishments.

Quality of accommodation also continues to remain a top priority, with 57 per cent affirming that living standards played a crucial role in their final university choice; as well as the actual course itself (79 per cent), location (69 per cent), and academic ranking (44 per cent).

AUDE chair and director of estates and facilities at the University of Surrey, Trevor Humphreys, said of the findings: “Effective estate management is key to ensuring that higher education institutions deliver the best possible student experience, both academically and socially, so it’s encouraging to know that despite many sector challenges a very high level of students feel their university offers clean and well-maintained buildings.”