UK Youth Report reveals the impact of COVID-19 on youth services

Friday, February 26, 2021

Newly published data from UK Youth finds a 66% rise in the demand for youth services which are battling rising costs and a reduction in funding

Data gathered during the application process for the UK Youth Fund – Covid Relief reveals:

  • Two thirds (66%) reported an increase in demand for their services
  • 83% of youth organisations reported that their income decreased
  • More than half (57%) of youth organisations report that the cost of delivering their services to young people has increased since COVID-19 hit

In a report published today (24 February 2020), UK Youth reveals the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth services. Today’s report shows the true scale of the substantial increase in demand for services against the rapid decrease in funding. Preliminary data, first published in December, revealed that 64% of youth organisations at risk of closure in the next 12 months.

At the beginning of November 2020, UK Youth launched the inaugural UK Youth Fund – Covid Relief. A £2m lifeline pot backed with funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS), Pears Foundation and Paul Hamlyn Foundation as part of the Government’s £750m charities package.

During the application process, UK Youth collected data to build a current and indicative picture of the state of youth services today to address the lack of insight into where specific needs lie in the wake of the pandemic.

Overall, the report highlights that COVID-19 has and is continuing to have a substantial, negative impact on young people, particularly regarding their wellbeing and mental health. In turn, youth organisations are seeing an increase in demand for their services. However, in many cases, youth organisations are simply unable to meet the substantial demand for their services.

1,759 youth organisations took part in the data collection. Collectively these organisations reached more than two million young people per year before the pandemic. The overwhelming ask was for funding to prevent permanent closure, helping organisations to survive and adapt to the UK’s latest lockdown.

Lifeline grants ranging from £750 to £50,000 were given to youth organisations covering a vast array of activities. These ranged from social action groups, LGBTQ+ and racial equality programmes, centres which work with young offenders or engage young people in culture and sport. 86% of participating youth organisations reported that their work specifically targets young people who face barriers, discrimination or additional challenges.

In total UK Youth awarded £1,839,652 to 118 organisations from a total of 1,169 eligible applicants. The collective funding need from all organisations who completed the survey is £52,262,170.

Ndidi Okezie, CEO, UK Youth, said “The COVID-19 pandemic has hit youth organisations in the shadow of 10 years of extreme cuts. The impact of the pandemic has had a devastating effect on young people and the safe spaces that support millions of them. Many organisations across the youth sector have shown great resilience, trying to adapt and deliver vital services for young people but they still need help.

This data shows us two thirds of respondents are at risk of closing over the next twelve months. The gruelling consequences of COVID have gone on for longer than any of us could have imagined. As a sector at the front line of supporting the most vulnerable young people, more funding support is needed now. We cannot let young people fall through the net because crucial services were allowed to disappear.”

Fiona Hamilton-Fairley MBE, CEO and Founder, the Kid’s Cookery School, said, “The grant we received from the UK Youth Fund has allowed us to stay open and deliver many different projects from our amazing teaching kitchen. We have continued to teach many young people over zoom cookery sessions, and we also cook regularly for a Local Care Home. Without this grant, we would not be able to offer our services to so many different communities.”

Trevor Blackman, Founder, Ape Media, said “The pandemic has been a huge cloud over us all, and under that cloud, arts, culture and the voices of minority groups, especially the young, have been in the shadows. APE Media has always existed to give these groups an outlet, and the grant from UK Youth has enabled us to continue creating platforms, including ‘Visible’ – the first film festival specifically for LGBT+ young people of colour. A place where their stories, their voices and their work can shine. Without this, they would remain in the shadows.”

To view the full report, click here