Youth Futures Fund: skills, training and employability

We launched our Youth Futures Fund in 2021 to support London’s young people. Since then, we have raised over £600,000 and supported 15 organisations across London under the themes of mental health, and skills, enterprise and employability – with each organisation awarded an average grant size of £30,000 over two years.

The second phase of our Youth Futures Fund, which focused on skills, training and employability funded eight local community partners. Each of these partners give young people the vital support they need to stay engaged in education, get training, and find quality work so they have the tools to fulfil their potential and build a secure future.

The post-pandemic youth employability landscape

Young people, under age 25, represent almost a third of London’s population. They have been hit hard by the pandemic and are facing;

  • Worsening job prospects: In 2021 unemployment amongst 16–24-year-olds increased from 16% to 20%
  • Greater risk of violence and abuse: In 2021 a City Hall analysis revealed the pandemic has exacerbated the factors that put young people at risk of becoming involved in, or a victim of, violence
  • Rise in mental health issues: 1 in 10 children between 5-15 years have a diagnosable mental health disorder in London
  • Fewer opportunities and activities: In the past decade to 2021, from a starting point of 300 youth centres across London, over 130 have closed, a situation exacerbated by the pandemic

In London, unemployment amongst young people 16-24 years has risen to 20% and the number of young people 18-24 years not in education, employment, or training (a government category called NEET) in London is 12.1%. Falling under this category for over a year or more can greatly damage a young person’s future employment options and earnings, putting them at greater risk of living in poverty or experiencing homelessness.

With the cost of living increasing, putting even more strain on families and young people who are already struggling to make ends meet, it is important we support young people at this stage in their lives.

With that in mind, we are pleased to announce the eight organisations supported through round 2 of the Youth Futures Fund:

Action Youth Boxing Intervention

This grant will be utilised by Action Youth Boxing Intervention to assist them with the core costs of running their supplementary school provision. This includes rental of premises, sports and fitness equipment, staff salaries and training, hiring outside consultants to assist participants on key areas such as CV writing and interview skills. They will operate out of a premises in Camden which will be their own dedicated space to run the sessions. Young people will attend daily and their day will be split between functional skills lessons and the boxing fitness training combined with mentoring to support their confidence and wellbeing. This project will mean that young people who have fallen out of the mainstream school system do not end up being left behind but rather have a space in which they can gain functional skills in English and Maths and work on a plan for their future training and/or career prospects.

This contribution will enable us to advance in our mission of empowering young people through sports, fitness, education and training to set them up for a better future.
Albert McEyeson, CEO & Founder of Action Youth Boxing Intervention

Art Against Knives

Art Against Knives will use the funding for a pivotal role underpinning core operational infrastructure - the Head of Operations (recently promoted from General Manager). This role effectively manages all internal functions related to (a) high-quality programme delivery, (b) influencing local partners and systems, and (c) developing AAK’s future strategy. These functions include HR (training, recruitment, workplace culture), health and safety, systems and processes for service delivery, internal and external communications, financial controls and budgeting, and impact monitoring and evaluation.

With this resource they can invest in and secure workforce capacity at a time when their team is experiencing increased pressure with the cost-of-living crisis. They will equip them with the skills, resilience, and capability to deliver highly-specialist support e.g. 1:1 mentoring, skills training, EET support and creative therapeutic support (promoting mental health and sense of self), via weekly, youth-led activities in three creative community spaces in the heart of Barnet (plus outreach activity).

Every donation gives our team a huge boost, knowing that there are people out there who believe in our work, and who are willing to back us through these challenging times.
Sally Zlotowitz, CEO of Art Against Knives

Barking and Dagenham Progress Project

Barking and Dagenham Progress Project will use the grant for their “Youth Futures” programme, which is designed to develop health, confidence, skills and employment pathways for young people with disabilities living in Barking & Dagenham, giving them direction, focus and improved employability. The project will comprise four spheres:

  1. Health support: coaching, workshops and support activities promoting participants’ emotional, mental and physical wellbeing, ensuring they are ready to participate and thrive through training and development.
  2. Skills training programme: developing disabled young people’s skills including confidence building, practical skills such as time management, CV development and career planning.
  3. Sport and leisure: opportunities to train as sports leaders, an employment pathway with connections to local opportunities.
  4. Volunteer programme: volunteers are recruited and trained providing skills and direct work experience with partners and local businesses.

Build Up Foundation

Build Up Foundation will use the grant as two-year core funding to contribute to their director’s salary (including NI and pension) and overheads (contribution towards rent). Funding will enable them to initiate, set up and deliver more place-based community design and build projects, giving more marginalised young people vital building blocks for employment (e.g. hard/soft skills, experience, confidence, resilience, aspirations, ambition).

Build Up projects are either commissions, which tend to focus on the younger age range (10-16), or they are initiated by Build Up, mainly focusing on the older age range (16-23). Support for their core work will enable them to expand their work with older age groups: working with older youths, they’ll co-design programmes and develop proposals for projects that meet their needs, as well as developing opportunities for them to progress into positions of responsibility on projects and within the organisation (e.g. via work placements).

The young people on these work placements will help inspire and motivate other project participants by showing them that there are employment pathways for people like them.
Huan Rimington, Director of Build Up Foundation

Caxton Youth Organisation

Funding will support Caxton's core costs over the next two years. Following the pandemic and throughout the cost-of-living crisis, young people are navigating deepening barriers to employment, education and independence. In light of these challenges, core funding will play a crucial role in enabling Caxton to grow flexibly and adapt their services to meet young people’s evolving needs.

Over the next two years, they will focus on: raising Caxton’s capacity and profile so that every learning disabled and autistic young person in Westminster is aware of their services; amplifying youth voice at Caxton and in the community; and breaking down barriers so that young people can access the opportunities they need to reach their goals, including employment.

By supporting our core costs, The London Community Foundation is enabling Caxton to grow flexibly and respond decisively to the evolving needs of young people and the wider community.
Craig Gardiner, Fundraising Manager of Caxton Youth Organisation

Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons' Trust

Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons' Trust will use this funding to cover the staffing cost of the mentoring coordinator, who will oversee the roll-out of their work experience programme, which seeks to place young LGBT+ persons alongside LGBT+ employees in corporate organisations, while paying young persons the London Living Wage. This programme will see not only increased self-esteem and positive role modelling, but also an alleviation of the cost of living crisis as corporates will pay their members' salaries for their time with them. Placement will be for a week with an optional extension subject to corporate agreement.

Unique Talent

Unique Talent will use this grant to support and mentor 10 young people who have become involved or are at risk of serious youth violence, gangs and/or knife crime. They will work with both statutory and community agencies to establish appropriate young people. They will support 10 people into training or employment with their social enterprise restaurant 'Ja-Tasty' where young people will be offered AQA qualification units in recognition of their progress and achievements. This part of the project will offer tailored work experience, which will act as an entry to formal employment or education in the catering and hospitality industry.

YES Outdoors

The first phase of the YES Outdoors project is a Bicycle Maintenance project. The six-week course teaches young people to restore abandoned bicycles. The workshops will take place at the Thanet Youth and Community Centre during the evening, on a weekly basis. Each session lasts approximately 2-3 hours. Any young people who wish to work towards a City and Guilds qualification will complete some additional hours, which will be agreed to meet the needs of the learners.

In phase two, the young people will be connected to an Employment Coach who will provide tailored employment support. This may include a professionally tailored CV, help with job search or interview coaching. Young people aged 16-18 will also have the opportunity to take part in weekly targeted tutoring and a homework club.

What next?

This year, with your support, our Youth Futures Fund will find innovative and effective community-led projects working with young people after school and at weekends, engaging those at risk of violence to empower them to have healthy peer relationships and educate them on the impact of sexism, misogyny, and violence.

You can build a brighter future for the young people of London by donating to our Youth Futures Fund.

Contact us to find out more.