Rebekah Wilson , Gill Bielby , Sarah Golden , Sue Maguire , Michelle Judkins
01 January 2008
The Empowering Young People Pilot (EYPP) is part of the ten year youth strategy for positive activities, Aiming High for Young People, published in July 2007. It supersedes the planned Youth Opportunity Card (YOC), which was originally proposed as part of the ‘Youth Matters’ strategy that saw the establishment, in April 2006, of the Youth Opportunity Fund and the Youth Capital Fund (YOF/YCF). The aim of the pilot is to explore further in nine pilot areas the impact that giving disadvantaged young people spending power has on reducing financial barriers and increasing their participation in positive activities. Young people do not have direct access to the funds but are given the mechanism whereby they may be able to access the activity using funds paid directly to the provider of an activity or to the providers of transport to the activity.
The DCSF commissioned the NFER, NatCen and the University of Warwick to conduct an evaluation of EYPP. This summary presents the main findings from the interim report of the evaluation.
- Models adopted – the mechanisms used by young people to access positive activities varied across the pilot areas. However, all Local Authorities (LAs) aimed to make the mechanism simple for young people, used familiar processes or people, and avoided stigmatising the target group. Variations across the LAs included the extent to which adult mediation was a feature of the model; the degree of flexibility given to young people to access the activities; and what their monthly allocation could be used for.
- Involvement of young people - young people had been involved in developing aspects of the delivery approaches and were consulted about the activities included in the offer. LAs planned to continue this consultation with young people throughout the pilot period. At this stage, the LAs had raised awareness of EYPP with their target groups. It was generally reported that one-to-one support, compared with postal correspondence alone, helped to achieve higher take-up rates. Young people were receptive to EYPP but take-up was lower than anticipated at this stage of the pilot. This was because the LAs had faced a number of challenges in engaging young people. These included young people mistrusting the funds offered to them or being uninterested in the pilot. In addition, some of the LAs had found their initial methods of communication ineffective. Plans were in place to increase take-up and to sustain involvement during the pilot. These included hosting events to publicise the EYPP and visiting schools and youth centres to provide support and encouragement for young people. LAs also planned to run focus groups to gain feedback on young people’s experiences of participating in activities.
- EYPP activities – across the nine pilot areas a range of activities was included in the offer. In order to define the activities the pilot teams had consulted young people, identified gaps in existing provision, and aimed to ensure that a range of providers was involved to deliver provision across the defined DCSF categories. The activities included those that related to sports, arts, media, recreation, education and residential activities. Young people’s feedback on the activities was generally positive. At this stage in the pilot, providers were largely organisations that had previously worked with the LAs, but all areas had plans to develop their provision across the pilot period in response to young people’s demands. For example, they aimed to recruit new activity providers in response to requests and feedback from young people about the activities they wanted to do. They also planned to use evidence of young people’s increased participation in activities to negotiate discounts for the young people and to increase the number of activity providers involved in the pilot.
- Outcomes to date – at this stage, it was too early to comment on the frequency of access to activities by young people in receipt of EYPP money, or whether there was any evidence of an increase in the number of young people participating in positive activities in their area. Nevertheless, young people were said to be experiencing a number of benefits, as a result of EYPP, including improved self-confidence and social benefits, and developing skills. Young people who had participated in activities appreciated the opportunity to become involved in activities and reported increased awareness of the opportunities available to them in their local area. They were gaining new experiences, increased independence, and improved confidence and were developing specific skills and interests, as a result of their participation in EYPP.