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Youth United Impact Report 2015-16: growing sustainably and learning as we go

Youth United Impact Report 2015-16: growing sustainably and learning as we go

19th October 2016

Today sees the launch of Youth United’s Impact Report for 2015-16 and we’re very proud of the story that it tells. The past year has been our most significant year of growth yet, thanks especially to support from The Office for Civil Society. The Uniformed Youth Social Action Fund (UYSAF), which came to a close in March 2016, saw us create over 27,000 new places for young people from disadvantaged communities across the UK. This means that, since 2012, our Network has collectively created nearly 42,000 new places, exceeding our #iwill pledge of 40,000 six years ahead of schedule.

Importantly, this growth is sustainable. Our sustainability review for 2016 has shown that, of the units that received funding from Youth United three years ago or more, 87% are still open. This sustainable growth has been made possible by the incredible contribution of the 7,658 new adult volunteers who have stepped up to run youth groups in their local areas since the Foundation was launched.

The evidence base for youth social action is growing each year, and it is a key priority for Youth United to be contributing to this learning. An independent evaluation of UYSAF – carried out by Ipsos MORI and published today – looks at the impact that young people in uniformed youth groups can have on their wider communities. This research, a high volume quantitative survey, suggests that when a uniformed youth group is operating in a community, people feel a greater sense of pride in their area and are more likely to volunteer themselves.

Also published today and authored by Ipsos MORI, is a process evaluation that examines the challenges and good practice in engaging young people who are particularly hard to reach, including young offenders and those with physical disabilities and special educational needs. This research suggests that Youth United groups can be accessible and valuable to very hard-to-reach young people. There is clear demand from young people with a range of challenging needs for the opportunities offered up by our members. But our members know that they sometimes need to adapt their offer to make it accessible to all. The learning generated from this research will help them to do that more effectively, as well as contributing to learning in the wider youth sector.

July 2016 saw the publication of Youth United’s first ever randomised control trial. Delivered in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Durham University, this trial set out to examine the impact of uniformed youth activity in schools, with a focus on academic attainment and soft skills development. Over a very short period of time, a statistically significant impact was seen on young people’s soft skills, such as self-confidence and teamwork. The evaluators were unable to draw any reliable conclusions about academic attainment, so this is an area that we are keen to return to in future projects.

All of this work has deepened our understanding of the difference that we make and how we make it. We still have a lot to learn on these topics though, and we look forward to another year of growth and learning.

To read the full reports for all the research projects conducted this year (and in previous years) go to: www.youthunited.org.uk/our-impact/independent-research-and-evaluations.

By Patrick Taylor, Director of Programmes at Youth United

This blog post first appeared on the #iwill Campaign's website.