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"The best £10M I've ever spent!" - Eric Pickles praises SIP

"The best £10M I've ever spent!" - Eric Pickles praises SIP

11th December 2014

On December 10th, Youth United network groups created through the Supporting Inclusion Programme gathered for a star-studded event in the Speaker's Rooms at the House of Commons.

In the glow of the Speaker's magnificent Christmas tree, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles met young people who had benefitted from the hundreds of new Scout, Guiding or Cadet units set up in the last two years, saying it was "the best £10M I've ever spent."

Also in attendance were Youth United's star supporters Jermain Jackman, the winner of The Voice and DJ Nihal, the award winning BBC broadcaster, who stressed the importance of investing in young people and offering those from disadvantaged areas opportunities for the future.

Jermain Jackman added the impact of the Supporting Inclusion Programme "shined through" when speaking to the young people - with both stars happy to pose for photos and selfies with the young people! 

The programme began in 2012 when the government announced a £10 million cash boost to help train thousands of new volunteers for members of Youth United – national youth groups like The Girls’ Brigade, Fire Cadets and St John Ambulance.

Over the past two years, in areas where youth volunteering organisations had only a limited presence, an incredible 627 new, permanent, self-sustaining cub packs, guiding units and cadet troops are now established far exceeding the original target of 400.

Nearly 12,000 new places have been made available for young people providing the opportunity to learn teamwork, leadership, self-confidence and communication skills as well as experience new activities thanks to the army of local volunteers recruited by Youth United’s member organisations.

At the Parliamentary reception, Mr Pickles met young people who have benefitted from the programme and saw first hand how it had changed their lives.

Speaking at the event, Eric Pickles said:

“Our great youth groups like the Scouts, Guides and Cadets have a tremendous history of providing unique experiences and activities that young people cherish, but that’s only half the story. They foster life-skills that will last them the rest of their lives and help nurture bright, confident young men and women with a keen sense of adventure.

“Over the past two years, with our help, Youth United has recruited a new army of local volunteers to run cub packs, girls’ brigades and cadet troops – providing young people of all backgrounds with the chance to try a whole host of exciting and challenging activities together whilst instilling in them respect and responsibility for others so they become great citizens of the future.”

Lindsay Levkoff Lynn, Chief Executive of Youth United Foundation, said:

“It’s a testament to the hard work of our network that the Supporting Inclusion Programme has exceeded its targets in providing new opportunities and engaging more young people, but this is just the beginning.

“What we’ve proven with this programme is that we have a model that works. The development workers enable us to expand into areas where we’ve never been before, to provide opportunities for young people - and that lays the foundation for our future growth.”

The reception was hosted by Joan Walley MP, who has been a strong supporter of the programme in her Stoke on Trent North constituency. She said:

“Never has it been more important to engage with young people to equip them with the skills they will need to lead happy and fulfilling lives.  I am delighted to be hosting today’s event and I pay testament to Youth United and all the organisation's volunteers who are doing so much to improve the lives of young people.  I would also like to thank the Speaker of the House of Commons for allowing us to use his State Rooms for today’s wonderful event.”