£40m Youth Investment Fund launched to help disadvantaged young people

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Youth clubs and youth support services are set to receive £40 million in Government and lottery funding aimed at helping over 300,000 disadvantaged children across the country.

The Youth Investment Fund will be shared between 86 youth trusts across six disadvantaged areas in England, to help young people gain confidence and work skills.

One scheme, Liverpool's Youth Federation, will receive £749,664 to fund projects teaching coding and IT skills to almost 5,000 people across the Wirral, Halton and St Helens.

Elsewhere, the Kite Trust, an LGBT charity working in Cambridgeshire, is due to receive £193,554 to create four spaces for 600 young people to receive advice and support on issues such as inclusion.

The Kite Trust is also planning a programme for schools and businesses in the region to promote equality and inclusion.

SkyWay, a charity based in Hackney, East London, will receive £407,000 in funding to support its range of programmes in youth clubs, sports centres, parks and housing estates. It will also increase the number of people being trained as young leaders.

Youth organisations in East London, Liverpool City Region, the West Midlands, Tees Valley and Sunderland, Bristol and Somerset and Eastern Counties will receive the money over the next three years.

It will also be used to create new youth clubs in rural areas and to expand sports projects to get young people active, a spokeswoman for the Ministry for Sport and Civil Society said.

Minister for Civil Society Tracey Crouch said: "This investment from the Government and National Lottery players will have a transformational effect on the lives of some of our most disadvantaged young people.

"It will help thousands who might otherwise have gone under the radar flourish. Local voluntary and community youth organisations already do so much fantastic work and this £40 million will enrich the lives of many more young people throughout England."

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said: "The Youth Investment Fund is a welcome boost for the many great community organisations that work with young people locally.

"Money raised by National Lottery players creates opportunities for young people to build on their talents and strengths and the Youth Investment Fund is an important part of the jigsaw for the youth sector."

Research published by Unison, the public services trade union, revealed that youth services lost at least £60 million in funding between 2012 and 2014 and over 2,000 jobs were lost.

Based on an FoI request to 188 local authorities, it found that in the same period 350 youth centres closed and 41,000 youth services places for young people were cut.

Sian Berry, Green Party London Assembly Member and local councillor, has been a vocal critic of the cuts to youth services in the capital.

She said: "I've been asking for the Government to do more on this for some time and it's good that they are starting to recognise that investment in young people is good value and that cuts have consequences."

She added: "I understand [the funds] will be targeted and only help a handful of London boroughs whereas I found almost all had cut back dramatically on youth services.

"There's also the fact that the overall cut in London since 2011 has been more than £36 million according to my research, so this can't be coming even close to filling the national gap in youth services that cuts have caused."

Unison's deputy head of local government Mike Short said: "More money for young people's services is welcome, but today's announcement is a drop in the ocean.

"This Government has been ruthlessly slashing youth service spending for years, and vulnerable teenagers have been paying the price.

"It will take much more than piecemeal funding to make up for the huge damage inflicted on deprived communities up and down the country."