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Government announces £16.5m fund for youth charities

24 Nov 2020 News

Front door of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Fergus Burnett

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) today announced a £16.5m fund for youth charities. 

The announcement comes shortly after youth charities called on the government to follow through on its promise to create a £500m Youth Investment Fund, warning that services could close without such support.

The fund announced today is part of the £750m package for charities that was announced in April. Details of the application process have not been announced. 

DCMS said the fund will be open to grassroots youth clubs, uniformed youth groups and national youth and umbrella organisations, “to help to mitigate the impact of lost income during the winter period due to the coronavirus pandemic”. 

It added that further support for young people will be announced in today's spending review. 

Young people cutting back on extracurricular activities

Earlier this week The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) warned that the current crisis makes it less likely that young people will access extracurricular learning, which could could accelerate the youth mental health crisis.  

Indeed, 71% of respondents to a recent DofE survey said they are having to cut back on extracurricular activities due to increased academic pressures caused by Covid-19.

Nearly a quarter, 22.5%, said they were worried that they might have to sacrifice extracurricular activities because they are concerned about their parents’ financial situation.

The research also revealed that many are concerned about the impact of doing so on their mental wellbeing.

More than half of respondents, 54%, said their levels of stress, anxiety or mental health issues could increase if they are no longer able to take part in extracurricular activities.

During the pandemic, 43% of DofE participants surveyed said they felt volunteering, doing exercise or learning a new skill has given them a positive focus, while nearly two-thirds were more appreciative of non-academic activities as a result of the pandemic. 

In response, DofE has launched a Resilience Fund to ensure 12,000 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to extracurricular learning.

‘Threats to extracurricular learning could have devastating impacts’  

Ruth Marvel, chief executive of the DofE, said: “These threats to extracurricular learning could have devastating impacts on the mental health and future prospects of young people – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom have been hit hardest by Covid-19. 

“Non-academic education is just as important as academic learning, and the UK government must prioritise it as such. To face the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, young people need and deserve the increased resilience, confidence and independence built through extracurricular learning.”

£500m Youth Investment Fund 

In September 2019, the then chancellor, Sajid Javid, announced a £500m Youth Investment Fund, but this has been delayed due to Covid-19. 

Last week a letter to the Times, signed by more than 100 senior figures and celebrities, said: "We welcomed the government’s £500m Youth Investment Fund announced over a year ago. However this manifesto commitment has still not materialised.

"Many organisations were relying on this funding to invest in vital services to meet the increased needs of young people. Yet these same services are now on the brink of collapse: two in three will not be able to meet costs in four months time. Current government funding commitments – whilst welcome – are unfortunately nowhere near enough."

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