British Youth Council to close after more than 75 years due to ‘financial challenges’

22 Mar 2024 News

By wedninth, Adobe

The British Youth Council (BYC) is to close after more than 75 years of service to young people due to “ongoing financial challenges”. 

It will work with partners and the UK government to secure the future of programmes as much as possible, the charity announced yesterday.

BYC was initially set up by the Foreign Office in 1948, however, in 1963 the organisation became independent of the government as a charity. 

Zara Khan, chair of the charity said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the permanent closure of the British Youth Council as ongoing financial challenges have resulted in insolvency. 

“We know this news will come as a shock to young people across the country, generations of people who have been part of the youth voice movement, our supporters and many of our partners. 

“Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to provide a sustainable future for the charity. The economic environment has significantly impacted our ability to generate income.”

Khan said this was further cemented by its high street partner the Body Shop recently going into administration.

The charity had 19 staff and an income of £826,000 in the year to March 2022, according to the Charity Commission website, which states that its latest accounts are overdue.

‘An unjust and unequal society prevails’

Khan said: “Since the charity’s establishment, we have been committed to creating an environment where young people’s views are valued, sought and acted upon. We still believe this mission continues to be imperative to creating a better democracy for all. 

“We’re proud of the relentless work we’ve done which has seen us engage millions of young people throughout our history, and we know we leave behind a legacy of impact on the lives of countless people who have been able to find their voice and improve the lives of others in the UK and across the world through our international work. 

“As we begin preparations to cease operations, we know an unjust and unequal society prevails.

“Young people continue to need better mental health services, the cost of living crisis is significantly impacting the lives of too many young people, the need to address the climate emergency is more pertinent, and young people continue to be left out of our democracy at such a crucial time.

“The charity has a longstanding and proud history of standing up for the most marginalised communities.

“We know young people still face a society marred by discrimination whether that’s ableism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, islamophobia or antisemitism. It’s incumbent on all of us to reject this kind of society. 

“We would like to thank our dedicated staff team, volunteers, partners and funders, past and present, who have made our work possible. We can be proud of our joint efforts to ensure young people are empowered to bring about social and political change in their communities. 

“Young people care about their communities, peers and wider society. We call on all of our supporters to remind decision-makers across the country that, particularly in times of societal hardship, young people’s voices must be heard.”

Minister for Civil Society and Youth Stuart Andrew said: “I was very sorry to learn about the closure of the British Youth Council. Over its 75 year legacy, the BYC supported thousands of young people to become politically engaged and create positive change in their local communities.

“I want to reassure the Members of the Youth Parliament, and other young people involved, that the Government is absolutely committed to the UK Youth Parliament and to ensuring that it continues to both represent and amplify the voices of young people.

“We are currently exploring how to secure the future of the UK Youth Parliament and thank all those who have been involved, past and present, for their ongoing support.”

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