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23 March 2015

Monday 23 March 2015

How to get beyond the usual suspects to build stronger communities

  • Social action report gives key pointers to funders and practitioners
  • Call for all parties to back youth social action in the long term

London Youth today published a new report highlighting some of the challenges and opportunities for organisations engaging young people in social action, and called for funders and politicians to back this important work.

Getting beyond the usual suspects is the product of discussions with a wide range of charities and other organisations working with young people. It offers some clear pointers to funders, commissioners and practitioners who all share the goal of reaching ‘beyond the usual suspects’ to engage young people who face barriers to taking advantage of the social action projects and opportunities available.

The report draws on a wide range of expertise across the sector, including the 6 Principles of Social Action developed by the Generation Change coalition. Some of our key recommendations are:

  • More flexibility in programme design – so that young people aren’t prevented from participation because they have to attend for longer than they are able
  • More inclusive language and branding so that young people don’t think ‘this isn’t for me’
  • Funders and commissioners should involve young people in designing programmes – so they can offer opportunities they want to engage in
  • And opportunities should, wherever possible, be offered in the places and communities where young people are

Phil Kerry, Programmes Director at London Youth, said:

Our report highlights how those funding and providing opportunities for young people to get involved in social action can make even more of a difference. London Youth’s own research – along with recent research from the Government’s Behavioural Insights team for the Cabinet Office – highlights just how important social action can be. If delivered well social action opportunities can and do help build confidence, resilience and strengthen emotional capabilities in young people, which should lead to better outcomes later in life. And involving young people in social action in disadvantaged areas can really strengthen communities for everyone.

The report is launched at an important time for organisations working to engage young people, with the ending of a significant period of investment from the Cabinet Office in its Youth Social Action Journey Fund, which enabled London Youth and others to scale up their work and bring opportunities to more young people facing disadvantage. Getting beyond the usual suspects features case studies showing the impact of programmes that reach out to young people facing disadvantage, with important learning highlighted from The Scouts Association, Gingerbread, Envision, Working with Men as well as London Youth.

Phil Kerry added:

Recent interest from politicians and funders has been very positive, as if there was a genuine appetite to take social action beyond the usual suspects. However, many of the organisations working with young people in disadvantaged communities are now competing for what are still quite limited sources of funding, and now programmes and opportunities are at risk. This means that young people will miss out, experienced staff may lose jobs and vital knowledge and experience will disappear. We hope this report helps convince funders to continue to support this work. And we endorse Generation Change’s ask for all political parties to commit to a minimum investment in social action opportunities, in the same way that they have all shared a commitment to the Step Up To Serve campaign.”

You can read our full report, Getting beyond the usual suspects, here.