Written evidence submitted by BBC Children
in Need |
1. BBC Children in Need is the largest independent
funder of disadvantaged children and young people in the UK. Our
definition of disadvantage is broad and encompasses: poverty and
deprivation, disability, illness, abuse and neglect and behavioural
problems. In the last 10 years we have granted over £300
million to nearly 16,000 organisations. In 2010 we made 1,275
grants to the value of £39 million and anticipate that in
2011 we will make grants to a similar level.
2. In terms of youth services, we are currently
supporting 459 projects to a value of around £22.5 million
addressing the needs of disadvantaged young people across the
UK (280 projects at £15 million are in England alone). These
projects include generic youth work and clubs, outreach or detached,
issue based and drop in youth work. Alongside these we support
many other forms of projects and activities that reach young people
including arts and creativity (£8.6 million), befriending
and mentoring (£6 million), counselling (£11 million),
sports and health (£5.8 million) and training and employment
(£7.8 million, including a discrete £2 million NEET
focused programme funded in partnership with The Hunter Foundation).
3. Our submission to the Education Committee's
review of services for young people is from the perspective of
an independent funder and is based on many years experience as
a grant-maker in this sector. This text also draws on learning
that has come from an internal review of community-led youth clubs
for disadvantaged young people. This involved in-depth interviews
with the providers of 57 youth clubs across the UK, an online
survey of over 200 young people attending youth clubs and separate
learning events with providers and young people.
4. While this submission refers primarily to
mainstream youth provision, we have experience and knowledge about
provision to more targeted groups such as disabled, homeless,
in care and offending young people. There are many similar issues
in planning for and delivering to these more targeted groups;
however, there are also some very specific factors in meeting
their needs that are not represented here.
Relationship between universal and targeted services
(in targeted settings)
5. Our emphasis on meeting the needs of disadvantaged
children and young people means that most of what we fund needs
to be targeted in nature. For many of the youth services we fund,
particularly youth clubs, this can involve having an open door
policy in targeted communities. The activities and services will
then become more targeted as the young people engage.
6. Having a universal approach in marginalised
or deprived communities brings its own set of challenges to engaging
harder to reach young people that universal services in more well-off
areas may not experience. From our review of community led youth
clubs we learned that these include:
people's concerns, such as fear of violence, bullying and stigma;
concerns, such as worry about their child's safety and the focus
of the service;
lifestyles of certain families preventing attendance;
interests pulling young people away, for example "it's
weed or alcohol or us" (from a youth club provider);
groups can be different in nature and more challenging to engage
than in more well off communities.
7. Having a universal service in a marginalised
community but with an outreach strategy to engage the harder-to-reach
young people is an important approach for youth services. Indeed,
this universalism can be a facilitator to engagement as it can
allay concerns that it is only for "poor" or "troublesome"
young people that can keep all young people away.
8. Another benefit of being universal in a targeted
setting is that youth services providers report that it is important
to establish and maintain links with other services in their communities,
such as police, social services and schools, in order to identify
hard-to-reach young people. The providers can then use this information
to support their outreach practices, such as knocking on doors,
going to where young people "hang-out" and distributing
9. All projects we have spoken to acknowledge
that it takes time to build up trust and relationships with a
community and the young people in it; hence our assertion that
having a genesis and maintaining a role within a community is
an essential element of engaging all young people, including those
who are considered harder to reach.
10. Supporting the principle that to engage you
need an embedded local service with outreach capacity, we learned
from a survey of over 200 young people that two-thirds of them
need little additional information about their youth clubs in
order to attend. They have friends who tell them about it, have
"always known about it" or it is near where they live.
The remaining third were engaged through outreach activities,
such as information in their schools, referrals from elsewhere
and being approached by a club leader.
Volunteering and National Citizen Service priorities
11. Many community-based projects have volunteers
from the local community. An aspect that is important in their
connection to the young people from the community they served.
In our review 80% of the projects had previous and current users
of the clubs as volunteers. There was a clear message that this
recruitment required little effort as young people engaged in
the project often actively want to be volunteers. For many attendees
becoming a volunteer is a natural transition from their youth
club as their sense of responsibility develops and they "want
to give back" and/or as they are not ready to leave the club
12. Having young volunteers who were past participants
brings many benefits to the club and those attending. These include:
a young person's sense of public contribution as they give back
to the youth club, other young people and the community;
volunteers with current life experiences that help them empathise
with and relate to engaged young people and become mentors or
know how the youth club or service works and can guide young people
through its range of offerings, including how to access more targeted
young volunteers can have relationships with and support attendees
outside the youth service and this can develop their sense of
responsibility within their community;
volunteering helps in the transition to life after the youth service;
young volunteers encourages others to do the same when they reach
a similar stage or ageit becomes an ambition to progress
through the service from participant to volunteer;
challenging young people may hold respect for an older teenager
which they may not offer to a leader; and
young volunteers may progress to or also be part of the management
of the project, building their skills and capacity in running
and managing voluntary and community services.
Who accesses services, what they want and their
roles in shaping them
13. From the data of our current portfolio of
459 active youth projects we see that the 50% of young people
expected to attend youth services are aged 10 to 15 years, with
an equal distribution on each side of that with 22% being 5 to
9 year old and 21% being 16 to 18 year olds.
14. In terms of main issues worked with, 60%
of the youth services we fund have a primary focus on working
with young people living with issues of poverty or deprivation.
Other main issues being addressed included young people with very
risky behaviours (17%) and those who are disabled (8%).
15. Young people are not necessarily bonded to
one youth club and they do not necessarily attend those closest
to where they live. From our survey, almost a third of young people
attend more than one youth club even if their main youth club
was within walking distance, which was the case for just over
two thirds of young people. The choices by young people are a
combination of pragmatic and discerning factors including: location,
opening hours, activities and services offered, where their friends
go, the people that run it and, even, where their parents prefer
them to be.
16. A key factor is that a youth club fits (in
a social as much as a geographical context) within the regular
contact points in their lives, for example, home, school, family
and friends. Young people are less likely to engage with services
set away from these. For some, it matters less if the youth club
or service is not the biggest or the best, as large, anonymous
centres can be intimidating and require a certain amount of confidence
17. The options are naturally comparatively restricted
for young people living in rural areaswhere provision may
be narrow or non-existent and transport to services elsewhere
is a significant barrier. This emphasises the importance of competition
in improving the quality of services. Where choices are restricted
there is a higher possibility of services being under-developed,
which can include the calibre and capabilities of the youth workers
and the aspirations of the young people attending.
18. For many young people a youth club is a place
for them to connect with friends, trusted adults and have something
to do. That this engagement may lead to increased self-awareness
and confidence or a greater sense of direction in life may not
be initially clear to young people. However, in our interviews
and survey with young people there was a sense of appreciation
for what their youth club was doing or had done for them since
they engaged. We heard that these young people wanted more of
the same. In fact, 94% of the young people we surveyed stated
their youth club had at least made "a bit of a difference"
to their life: within this, 22% claimed it had totally changed
their lives. In interviews the young people were able to express
how the clubs had:
them alternatives to previous risky or problem behaviour;
development and career opportunities;
them to have some fun;
them something to do;
for a safe place to be with friends and meet new ones; and
them to caring adults who had become role models.
It is worth noting that what is appealing for funders
is not necessarily the same aspect that motivates a young person
to engage, for example, they will sign up for a trip but not a
workshop on substance misuse. Our funding tries to take account
of the nuances and incentivisation aspects of programme planning.
19. The establishment of community-based youth
clubs has traditionally come from wider community interests who
recognise a gap for young people in their area or have real or
perceived concerns about "youth nuisance". The involvement
of young people, however, in instigating the need for and leading
the development of youth clubs in their communities is not always
obvious. Only three out of 57 providers we interviewed said the
youth club was what the young people wanted and only one stated
that the young people were the main interest that drove the establishment
of their youth club. More positively, a third were able to talk
more broadly about the young people being involved in some capacity
at set-up. For the most part this involvement consisted of young
people being consulted (including via outreach), being part of
community groups or committees and leading or assuming leadership
of a club's development. Many of these youth clubs that have had
young people's engagement at the outset have been established
in the past twelve years. This highlights the more modern practice
of young people's participation in matters that concern them.
20. We also asked young people how they engaged
in their youth clubs ongoing decision-making. This revealed that
only 5% of young people felt they had no involvement with decisions
in their youth club. For the remaining 95% it was possible to
identify those who saw their contributions on an individual level
and those who saw them on a collective level, that is, were part
of group decision-making within their youth club. In fact, young
people were increasingly likely to be involved in group decision-making
the older they were. It was also common for youth clubs to have
a scale of involvement by age. For example: 12 year-olds as participants
choosing their activities; 15 year-olds assuming voluntary responsibilities
such as leading younger people in activities; and 18 year-olds
becoming full volunteers and/or members of management committees.
21. As a funder it remains difficult for us to
ascertain the quality of young people's involvement in projects.
We recognise that making the space and time for participation
can be more for the benefit of organisations applying for funding
than for the benefit of young people. We also recognise that clubs
which have their genesis in the community do not always start
from the premise that participation and empowerment is an essential
part of youth work and that this understanding and the know-how
to implement it can require time and support to develop.
Roles of voluntary, community, statutory and private
sectors in providing youth services
22. We see the interaction and links between
all these sectors as vital in the provision of effective youth
services. Much of what needs to be achieved to improve the lives
of vulnerable young people relies on sharing knowledge, expertise
and resources across organisations operating in these different
spheres. It is common for many of the voluntary and community
youth services we fund to be part of or contributing to multi-agency
or integrated working groups in their local area.
23. The expert knowledge from statutory youth-worker
stakeholders is valuable, especially their connections to the
latest information on issues being addressed and where to link
for support and best practice. With the possibility of less statutory
youth services, there is a risk that the loss of this expertise
will create a knowledge vacuum in local areas across the country.
24. For community-based services we know that
strong links with local business, statutory and voluntary organisations:
referrals to and from each other which is especially important
for marginalised young people;
sources of key local knowledge about issues, individual young
people and service opportunities and challenges;
opportunities to share resources and reduce costs, such as accessing
/ providing in-kind support;
the choices of services, facilities and activities for young people;
a co-ordinated holistic approach to needs, leading to better support
for young people.
25. In the forthcoming era of budget constraints
we expect the need for community providers to build and form relationships
with other local organisations and across sectors to increase
Training and Workforce Development
26. Training for part-time workers and volunteers
has traditionally been something workers would receive on the
job or in their own time. The increasing emphasis, however, on
those working in the sector to be highly skilled in engaging and
delivering provision to young people has resulted in added pressure
on the voluntary and community sector to ensure that the volunteers
and staff they are using are appropriately trained.
27. We learned that there was an equal split
across providers of youth clubs about what were essential attributes
when recruiting staff and volunteers. "Personal qualities
and experience" were viewed as the most essential for 43%
of providers while qualifications and skills were most important
28. The personal qualities highlighted by providers
empathy and respect for young people;
positive role models;
tolerant and patient; and
and willingness to do extra.
29. While many were able to identify desirable
qualifications and experience for working in youth clubs as important,
there was a mixed response to making qualifications and/or experience
a requirement in recruitment.
30. Being local and having local knowledge of
the community and the youth club itself are also highly-valued
features of staff and volunteers.
Public sector spending cuts
31. We currently support around 2,400 not-for-profit
organisations working with disadvantaged children and young people
across the UK. In 2010 we saw requests to the value of £226
million against available funds of £39 milliona ratio
of almost £6.50 requested for every £1 available. We
are anticipating increased demand on our available funds in the
32. While it is very early days in terms of understanding
the implications of local spending decisions, the number of requests
we received to fund youth services in England in our January 2010
grant round as compared to our January 2011 grant round rose by
35%. The regions with the most prominent increases are in the
South West and North of England.
How value and effectiveness of services can be
33. Having the best evidence available to assess
the needs of young people and the effectiveness of the services
that work with them is essential to us when making decisions about
new and continuing funding.
34. We provide mandatory Self-evaluation Training
to organisations where we fund salaried posts in order to bolster
their ability to report on the outcomes they achieve for children.
We have done this through investment in around 60 training days
a year for funded organisations across the UK. This ability of
projects to self-evaluate and reflect on their performance against
desired outcomes (successes and failures) will remain of utmost
importance to projects seeking further support. We have identified
a challenge for many organisations in setting up straightforward
systems to capture relevant and regular qualitative data to enable
outcomes to be analysed and understood.
35. We also recognise that there will be a greater
responsibility for the larger funding or infrastructure organisations
(including statutory bodies) to take a lead in aggregating the
lessons and outcomes from across the work of the smaller, less
well resourced voluntary and community sector organisations. Further,
assessing the value and effectiveness of youth services does not
rest with one group or type of stakeholder within the sector,
ie, it cannot be the sole responsibility of providers. There is
vested interest for all stakeholders to work together to gather,
analyse, exploit and share data and knowledge in order to develop
the best possible practices and structures to meet and address
the needs of all young people, especially those from disadvantaged
36. Open access services in disadvantaged settings
are important for engaging the young people in the communities
they are set. When commissioning and planning universal services
in targeted communities it will be important to ensure a range
of direct contact strategies are in place to engage the "harder-to-reach"
young people in that area.
37. It is important to encourage services to
develop and maximise opportunities for progression through youth
services; for example, from participant to volunteer to youth
worker. Alongside this, to help the young people connect their
growing responsibilities within their youth services to the wider
communities in which they are based.
38. Establishing and maintaining links with other
agencies and providers in local communities may become increasingly
challenging in the more localised and increasingly competitive
commissioning environment. All providers in the new settings need
to be supported and encouraged to remain open to sharing resources
and knowledge and developing partnerships in order to ensure services
for young people are their most effective.
39. We need to recognise that not all providers,
in particular those from community grass-root origins, have the
resources and capacity to recruit appropriately qualified staff;
or train their workforce (including volunteers) to the level that
would be preferred. For many who recruit based on personal qualities
and experience, on-the-job training is all they are able to offer.
There is a need for much more high-quality short-burst training
on the job for youth workers who have the right qualities, attributes
and life experience but who lack the knowledge of how to translate
these in a sustained way into effective youth work practice.
40. Recruiting a workforce (paid and voluntary)
from local communities offers many benefits to all involved. Providing
localised support to recruit and train people from the communities
being reached is therefore needed.
41. As finances tighten and all stakeholders
rearrange to maintain service provision, there will need to be
a careful focus on the ongoing ability of providers to engage
young people in planning and decision-making. All effort should
be made to ensure that participation of young people does not
fall away because it becomes too difficult and/or expensive within
42. Assessing value and effectiveness of services
and interventions that work to improve the lives of young people
is not just the responsibility of those leading the provision.
Resources and capacity to assemble and exploit learning could
be developed in local partnerships in order that learning about
effectiveness and good practice is maximised and not lost.
1 April 2011