Disadvantaged young people to enjoy more outdoor experiences

THOUSANDS of disadvantaged young people are to get access to outdoor learning opportunities away from home so they can develop vital life skills, build confidence and resilience.

The Adventures Away From Home Fund, worth £1.5 million, will allow more children and teenagers to enjoy activities they otherwise would not be able to take part in. The fund will see disadvantaged young people take part in activities to give them new experiences and expand their horizons.

Participants such as young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and young carers will be given the opportunity to try exciting new activities such as zip-lining, kayaking and cooking, supporting the development of skills like teamwork and problem solving. Outdoor learning has also been shown to increase young people’s attainment in schools and their attitudes towards learning.

This builds on last year’s scheme where over 3,500 young people had the opportunity to take part in this programme from across the country. Young people said the experiences helped them overcome their fears and prepare them for real world experiences, with one young person saying “It was only [their] second time away from home” and that “the trip was an adventure from start to finish…we loved every minute of it.”

The move to more than double this programme this year builds on Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer’s aim to give young people ‘someone to talk to, something to do and somewhere to go’, outlined in a recent keynote speech at the Onward Think Tank.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said, “I want every young person to have the very best start in life, and that includes access to exciting opportunities that take them out of their comfort zone and expands their horizons. The Adventures Away from Home Programme will support 7,500 young people to take part in activities not usually available to them. It will help them develop new skills, build confidence and resilience.

“We will support one million more hours of activity for young people in youth centres and clubs to give them somewhere to go when the school day ends where they can enjoy positive activities. The Government is today also announcing the next phase of the Million Hours Fund is open for applications, in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund.”

Designed to create more than one million additional hours of youth centre provision in areas with high numbers of antisocial behaviour incidents, the £19 million fund will pay for additional youth workers, volunteers, venue hire and activity resources for youth clubs.

The first £3 million of the Million Hours Fund was allocated earlier this year. It helped 400 youth organisations to deliver extra provision over the summer holidays – meaning more young people could enjoy positive activities during the break. In the South West, 34 projects were supported by over £261,000 funding. In Swindon, Central Swindon North Parish Council received £6,500 to deliver a range of sport, dance and forestry sessions and day trips for young people aged 11-18 during the summer holidays. The project aimed to provide positive and engaging activities for young people and reduce the risk of anti-social behaviour.

David Knott, Chief Executive at The National Lottery Community Fund, said, “We’re proud to be working alongside DCMS to jointly fund the Million Hours Fund to bring much-needed additional youth provision and activities to young people living in England. Thanks to National Lottery players, this investment will improve young people’s prospects and support them to thrive – a key part of our strategic mission.”

The Government is also committed to giving young adults something productive to do via its partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund on the #iwill Fund, which creates opportunities for taking part in high quality social action projects. The Government is today confirming more than 60,000 new volunteering opportunities, supported by £12 million of investment, specifically supporting those from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Projects include Clarion Futures, which has been allocated over £630,000 to scale up their Intergenerational Social Action programme, providing opportunities to 2,000 young people. The projects will bring older and younger residents together to tackle local issues and explore ways to create more connected communities across generations.

Similarly, funding of over £600,000 to the Diana Award Mentoring Programme will create 1,200 opportunities over two years. Young people aged 14-18 at risk of not being in education, employment or training (NEET) will take part in a twelve-week mentoring and careers skills development intervention, helping them to improve employability skills and general wellbeing.

Since its launch in 2016, a total of 700,000 new youth social action opportunities have been created, supported by £33 million investment in the #iwill Fund by the Government. Young people who reported taking part in social action in the 2019 Youth Social Action Survey stated that it improved their communication skills, their ability to work in a team and their self-confidence.

Giving children and teenagers something engaging to do is a key component of the Government’s ‘National Youth Guarantee’, announced in 2022. This makes clear that every young person aged between 11 and 18 in England will have access to regular clubs and activities, adventures away from home, and volunteering opportunities by 2025, backed by an investment of more than £500 million.

This includes the Government’s Youth Investment Fund of more than £300 million that will support up to 300 youth centres across the country to be rebuilt or redeveloped, and help 45,000 more young people access regular, positive activities every year.

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