28 May 2021
It feels like the first day of summer. Although June is still a few days away, weeks of rain, unseasonal cold, and wondering whether to put the heating on, have been replaced by blue skies, sunshine and the promise of warmer weather to come.
Wouldn’t it good to change the outlook for young people too? All the talk has been about the impact of the pandemic on their mental health, the challenges they face getting a job, and the need for them to buckle down and catch up with schoolwork.
As the restrictions are gradually lifted shouldn’t we be offering them meaningful sources of hope?
Opportunities to channel their pent-up energy into visual and performance art, time outdoors doing abseiling and kayaking, the chance to try new sports with their friends, support to develop community projects that enable their local neighbourhood to get back on its feet. And a mentor maybe, to listen and understand where they are at, help them see their strengths, and point them in the direction of a career where they’ll be able to use them.
And if we’re going to do things differently now, as well as offering these sources of hope, maybe we should reboot the funding model for out of school activities too.
Especially for the young people most affected by the pandemic. Those whose parent or guardian can’t afford tennis lessons or the cost of the year six residential. Before the pandemic, most grants would include project costs for a youth club but no contribution to keep the lights on, a minibus but no money for petrol.
In the face of the unprecedented emergency, can funders do better than this?
Community youth clubs are going to step up this summer. They’ll offer the sports tournaments, arts initiatives and trips away that young people desperately need. But they’ve been running down reserves during the restrictions and urgently need core costs covered too.
Funders, investors and individuals are all gradually getting the need to offer young people sources of hope. This is brilliant. But can they dig even deeper, access any money stored away for a rainy day? And while they’re funding projects and activities, add some longer term investment into youth clubs in the process. Then it might feel like the first day of summer for young people too.
– Gareth Price, Head of Development