Memorandum submitted by The National Council
for Voluntary Youth Services |
1. The National Council for Voluntary Youth
Services (NCVYS) is the independent voice of the voluntary
youth sector in England. A diverse network of national voluntary
youth organisations and regional and local youth networks, NCVYS
has been working since 1936 to raise the profile of youth work,
share good practice and influence policy that has an impact on
young people and the organisations that support them.
2. The NCVYS network reflects the diverse
range of voluntary organisations working with young people at
community, local, regional and national level. We cover around
80% of the voluntary youth sector in England and work with our
members to build sustainable communities and services that help
all young people achieve their potential. Most of our members
offer opportunities to engage in challenging activities or develop
creative talents. They also support young people to become active
in their communities and offer opportunities for their voice to
be heard. Some offer interventions to prevent or tackle specific
issues such as homelessness or offending behaviour. Others offer
counselling, advice, guidance and information. All contribute
to young people's personal and social development; some also engage
with spiritual development.
3. NCVYS members deliver both targeted and
universal services and we recognise and support the different
roles of targeted and universal services. The needs of disadvantaged
young people should be prioritised, and targeted youth services
work with those such as care leavers, young people with a history
of offending, learning difficulties and mental health problems,
and young people who have experienced homelessness and abuse.
Targeted programmes deliver cross-cutting outcomes, including
helping young people to develop employment skills and engage with
volunteering, and reducing anti-social behaviour or re-offending.
4. However, it is not just disadvantaged
young people who benefit from youth work. There is much evidence
that all young people gain from the informal education, peer learning
and relationship with a responsible, trusted adult afforded by
good youth work.
A joined up approach between universal and targeted services is
critical to help avoid duplication. Targeted services can also
help young people make informed choices and raise awareness of
the universal services available.
5. A number of NCVYS members are part-delivering
National Citizen Service (NCS) pilots, and many deliver work very
similar to that of the NCS approach. The Government needs to recognise
this existing provision, as well as targeted provision, which
is different from the NCS, characterised by its universality to
ensure social mixing. Disadvantaged young people can be engaged
in the NCS, but encouraging and enabling such young people to
engage and sustain volunteering requires brokerage.
6. NCS providers must be incentivised and
supported to reach young people not currently engaged in community
action. They should also be aiming to maximise sustained engagement
so that a summer's worth of community action becomes rooted in
permanent, locally-led programmes that engage young people from
varied backgrounds. The NCS is also an opportunity, with young
people taking part in activities in the natural environment, to
develop environmentally-responsible attitudes and behaviours.
7. Services for young people engage young
people from all backgrounds. This includes mainstream access to
positive activities as well as bespoke targeted services for those
with particular needs. Targeted provision for young people reaches
individuals and communities that universal services cannot or
do not manage to engage. Disadvantaged young people are at greatest
risk of low confidence levels, engaging in criminal activity,
becoming homeless, suffering from depression, school exclusion
or becoming drug dependant.
8. Talking to young people in our member
organisations and young people engaged in our national youth forum,
young people say they want these services to offer a trusted,
positive adult relationship, one to one personal support, education
and skills development and challenging and vocational opportunities.
They want services to be flexible to their needs and for participation
not to be forced on them. Young people also want services that
recognise the interconnectedness of health, skills, family, education
and job prospects. In the present climate we are seeing increasing
calls from young people demanding that services for them help
to shape their future development. In this respect, access to
volunteering, training and employment opportunities are essential
services being provided by youth organisations. For many of the
young people who are not in education, employment and training
or NEET (the latest figures suggest this is as high as 1 million),
these organisations provide the only alternative to a positive
future that can divert them from more negative paths. For example,
NCVYS members UK Youth provide a Youth Achievement Foundation
course that builds skills for young people unable to gain these
elsewhere. This offer comprises small independent schools that
deliver courses recognising young people against achievement marks.
Over 75% of young people participating achieve a skill and in
last year's cohort over 94% improved school attendance rates.
One young woman said:
"If it wasn't for you I wouldn't have anything
on my CV"
UK Youth participant
9. There is evidence that there has been progress
in involving young people in shaping provision over the last decade
However, further work remains to be
done to ensure that a wider range of young people are involved
in all decisions that affect them, and there is room for progress
in involving children and young people in personal decisions affecting
their lives, in decisions taken at school and decisions in their
local community. Engaging young people in service design requires
skilled and sustained facilitation and therefore requires investment
in organisations with expertise in doing this. At NCVYS we ensure
young people are at the heart of our own decision making processes.
We are just one of the 0.5% of charities with young people aged
18-24 serving on our trustee board. One of our young trustees
"I'm doing things I never thought I could through
volunteering, I just needed to be given the opportunity".
Leon Bruff, Young Trustee serving on NCVYS Board
10. All sectors have a vital role to play in
providing services for young people. The voluntary and community
sector is often a bridge between public and private sectors. One
of its strengths is its work through strong partnerships with
the public and private sectors both nationally and at a very local
level. Such relationships with the local authority and other statutory
agencies are the key to successful service delivery. Voluntary
and community youth organisations regularly work alongside schools,
prisons, Youth Offending Teams, colleges, and employers to promote
a joined-up approach. Work with universal or statutory service
providers ensures the best possible transitions for young people
across services. In a climate where resources become tighter,
we are keen to see partnership working to deliver services becoming
11. However, some NCVYS members report that pressure
on statutory services to meet efficiency targets is leading to
some operating a 'slash and burn' approach to the voluntary sector
in order to make much needed spending cuts. This is a false economy
and we are convinced will lead to many young people and communities
going without core services that divert them from negative outcomes.
Over time, these will present new demands on the state purse.
For example, NCVYS member Catch 22 is delivering projects across
150 towns and cities with tens of thousands of young people already
involved in or at risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice
system. They report that nine out of 10 young people who have
been involved in crime don't re-offend whilst in their programmes
and that eight out of 10 young people they work with say that
they have found new goals and ambitions with their help.
12. A mature approach to assessing community
needs is required; this should be supported by priority services
to support those needs. This can best be achieved by working across
a partnership of providers that can together deliver services,
rather than fast-paced wide ranging cuts that do not consider
the long term impact of cuts on young people and their communities.
13. NCVYS is currently delivering Progress, a
project which seeks to deliver 25,000 accredited training opportunities
to staff and volunteers working front-line with young people between
September 2010 and March 2011. The data from the project will
be a key resource in identifying the training and workforce development
needs of the sector.
14. NCVYS's submission to the 2010 Sector Skills
Assessment identified the skills shortages and gaps of the voluntary
and community youth sector.
NCVYS members find that funding and a lack of time continue to
be the biggest barrier in accessing training and other development
15. The submission identified the following skills
gaps. An Entry Level qualification in youth work, with a lower
guided learning hours requirement, but with the necessary basic
skills and knowledge requirements (including safeguarding, which
is currently missing from the Level 1 Certificate) would meet
the needs of volunteers, as well as those new to youth work or
considering working in the sector. There is also a need to support
those who might benefit from an Apprenticeship but who do not
yet have the skills to begin one, so skills delivery which focuses
only on outcomes such as qualifications is inadequate.
16. The submission identified the following particular
skills gaps in the youth workforce:
- Understanding commissioning.
- Developing supervision practice and reflective
- Child protection and safeguardingthere
are significant gaps in training provision and a lack of understanding
of the requirements in levels of training needed.
- Managing volunteers and fundraising eg sourcing
funding for a youth project.
- The spiritual development of young peoplefaith
organisations employ a large number of workers and volunteers
in the delivery of youth services.
- General skills eg team work, managing a team,
- Assessor and verifier skillswith the sector
becoming an increasingly important provider of training delivery,
these skills will help increase capacity in the sector to deliver
key programmes such as youth work apprenticeships. Training providers
have indicated to NCVYS that the reason for the lack of take-up
of assessor units and qualifications is that they believe that
employers are unclear of the key role assessor skills play in
capacity building within their workforce. Reliance on external
organisations providing assessment is costly and can prevent employers
from developing their workforce.
- Optional units connected to global youth work
for youth work qualifications.
17. NCVYS members believe that payment by results
is desirable and achievable in certain areas (such as resettlement
and employment) so long as sufficient working capital is available.
If it is not, all but the largest voluntary organisations will
simply not be able to get involved. It is important to identify
how success is going to be measured and whether the measure is
on outcomes and outputs rather than inputs. Payment-by-results
contracts must pay a portion of delivery costs as they are incurred
to ensure that risk is proportionate to benefit. Financial and
social return on investment will be greater if payment-by-results
contracts recognise the broader spectrum of outcomes and development
needs of the most disengaged. Often it is early, smaller step
outcomes that enable personal and social development. We recommend
that payment by results recognises this and considers a more appropriate
staged-payment model whereby voluntary organisations do not experience
a cash flow problem.
18. It is crucial that public sector spending
cuts do not undermine quality provision whilst allowing poor services
to linger. Organisations that have invested in their own development,
diversified and strengthened their offer to young people are still
very susceptible to cuts, and unless remaining funds follow quality,
there is a risk that those most fit for purpose may not survive
the cuts. Funding on a long term basis should enable organisations
to capture the learning to replicate the models of best practice.
This will also help organisations develop stronger strategies
that are proven to work. Good youth work needs strong institutions.
Investing in impact assessment, sharing lessons, sound financial
management and staff and volunteer development is not wasting
money on bureaucracyit is strengthening the hands of those
at the front-line work to the long-term benefit of young people.
19. Cuts could be mitigated by pooling of departmental
budgets. Young people's needs are not isolated from one another
and many voluntary and community youth organisations are characterised
by the holistic nature of their approach. Emotional wellbeing
is linked to employment prospects, which in itself is crucial
to poverty levels and prison numbers. At present, no single department
has the budgetary incentive to properly invest in preventative
and holistic services that deliver multi-faceted outcomes. If
there were more joined up policy and budgets across departments,
we would also mitigate any unintentional contradictions.
20. We are pleased to see the Cabinet Office
looking seriously at the subject of commissioning through the
Modernising Commissioning green paper. We know that improving
commissioning arrangements will be even more important than ever
if voluntary organisations are to take on the enhanced role in
public service delivery envisioned by the Big Society. NCVYS has
produced a range of commissioning resources and guidelines for
our members and statutory providers through Kindle: a community
sector partnership set up for children and young people.
The latest publication focuses on the Big Society and signals
how much needs to be done if services are to work effectively
in maximising resources through good commissioning models.
21. Services must focus on the whole young person
and address causes not symptoms. Some funding streams have focused
on specific presenting symptoms and not the development of wider
emotional and social capability. The unintended consequence is
to constrain and contort interventions towards a particular, mechanical,
linear and limited approach where, in actual practice, a young
person is targeted as unemployed or at, say, risk of unplanned
teen pregnancy in one programme, at risk of offending in another
and at risk of knife carrying in a third with no link-up between
22. In fact, investment in programmes looking
at the whole young person, building personal and social confidence
and capacity is of greater long-term value. Such programmes, evidence
suggests, develop a whole range of non-cognitive life-skills leading
to successful transitions to adulthood and thereby a wide range
of positive outcomes. However, public policy and funding tends
(for the need to hit quantifiable targets within a bound time-horizon)
to have been directed in more limited directions, targeting presenting
symptoms not underlying causes.
23. We are clear about the need to assess impact,
but there needs to be recognition that there are practical limits.
Any evaluation process must be inclusive and involve the voluntary
and community sector in its design and delivery. Success should
be determined by voluntary organisations, local communities, frontline
staff and young people themselves but should be supported by government
to drive better impact measurement across the sector as a whole.
NCVYS is happy to provide further information about this subject
and the experience of our members in putting a value on what they
8 An evaluation of the impact of youth work in England,
Merton et al (2004) http://publications.education.gov.uk/eOrderingDownload/RR606.pdf
Children's Participation in Decision-making: A Summary Report
on progress made up to 2010, Participation Works (2010)
changing results: Our services are here to help you achieve them
Catch22 (October 09) http://www.catch-22.org.uk/Files/Commissioners-brochure.pdf?id=4b3218c7-895d-4256-9a40-9dac00a2a49b
Consultation on the 2010 Sector Skills Assessment, Lifelong
Learning UK (September 2010)
Commissioning and the Big Society: the role of the community