The speech made by Lucy Frazer, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, in London on 12 October 2023.
Thank you to the Youth Futures Foundation for inviting me to be part of this Connected Futures Conference.
Days like today are a real opportunity to explore how we best go about supporting disadvantaged young people into education, employment and training.
I’m pleased to be able to share with you some of what we’re doing in Government to help our young people achieve their potential.
Changing young people’s lives and giving them the best start in life is the reason I entered into politics.
Because, as all of you in this room will know, how we help and support young people can make a phenomenal difference.
Every bit of support we give, makes a difference to an individual and I wanted to start with a story of a girl, called Shamza.
Earlier this year I took part in a roundtable with young people who had taken part in a national citizens service programme.
Around the table was a group of young adults, inspiring young people who were confident and engaged with their communities.
This hadn’t always been the case.
Many of them were disadvantaged, a significant proportion were carers.
Amongst them was an inspiring young woman called Shamza.
Shamza told me that she came to the UK 3 years ago and when she came she didn’t speak any English.
But despite this obstacle, she carried with her a dream of one day working for the police.
She signed up to the NCS, she’s now fluent in English and last month she started her journey into the police as an apprentice.
She grasped the opportunities that came with the NCS programme and used that programme as a springboard to start her new life in the UK.
Her story is one that speaks to the power of youth services and what they should be about – opening doors for young people and creating chances where they didn’t previously exist.
And that’s why this kind of event is so important.
Because it brings together all of you.
Think tanks. Local Government. National Government. Businesses. Delivery partners.
From Blackpool FC Community Trust, the British Chambers of Commerce and the University of Central Lancashire to KPMG, PWC and Virgin.
The huge range of organisations we have here today reflects the fact that young people are not just the responsibility of governments – we all have a role to play.
And while you may all be here from different organisations, you all have one thing in common: you are invested in the future of our young people.
You share our ambition of giving young people the tools they need to realise their untapped potential.
As a Government, we recognise how important all of your organisations are, and we’re grateful for everything you’re doing collectively to improve outcomes for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
YFF, in particular, has used Dormant Assets Funding to really unpick and find solutions to some of the challenges facing young people today.
And – by bringing together the youth sector, local authorities, schools, parents, and the private sector – your focus on building the evidence base is already helping to make a difference to how we help more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into education, into employment and into training.
And I know that the Connected Futures Programme is exactly about this sort of work.
Fostering local partnerships to address challenges, to share best practice and to drive greater quality of youth provision at a local level.
Now, as many of you may know, this is one of the areas of my portfolio I am most passionate about – investing in maximising the potential of young people across the country.
I believe that we should ensure that every young person should have more opportunities than their parents.
And to achieve that I think every young person needs someone to talk to, something to do, and somewhere to go.
It’s an issue I’ve been passionate about throughout my time in Government.
When I was on the education select committee, when I was a justice minister responsible for youth justice and now as Secretary of State with some responsibility for youth policy.
I’d like to just touch on why these 3 things are so important and measures I have recently announced that build on them.
When it comes to giving young people someone to talk to, I know millions of young people across the country were just as lucky as I was.
Many have parents and grandparents to lead them on their journey.
Some people find teachers.
So last month, we announced our plan to work with the Youth Futures Foundation to support young people at risk of falling out of education, employment or training after 18.
So, through the £15 million Building Futures programme, funded by the Dormant Assets Scheme, as many as 5,000 young people aged 14 to 16, will be offered intensive mentoring and wraparound support.
We have high hopes this programme will provide a leg up to those young people who need it most, with personalised guidance, career coaching, and mental health support, and at the same time, it will help really build up the evidence base for what works.
And I know YFF will be setting out details later in the year on the structure of the programme and the locations for support.
Secondly, turning to somewhere to go;
We know that young people don’t want to hang around the streets and fall into the wrong crowd.
We know that giving them somewhere to go where they can socialise, make new friends, develop new skills, and become more rounded individuals makes a massive difference.
And that aim is at the heart of our Youth Investment Fund, where 87 organisations across the country have already received Youth Investment Fund grants with over 200 more to come so we can provide more safe spaces for young people.
At the same time, we’re continuing to deliver the Million Hours Fund, which we run in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund.
The fund is injecting £22 million directly to youth organisations in wards across England that are identified as having high rates of anti-social behaviour.
Each ward will then be able to provide additional hours of any youth activity that is ‘open to all’.
And finally, young people need something to do.
We’ve teamed up with a number of the expert organisations in this area to launch programmes tailored to reach different groups.
To begin with, we’ve extended the Adventures Away from Home Fund.
Through this Fund we are providing bursaries for around 7,500 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, across England, to access outdoor trips.
I’ve been fortunate to see first hand how much of a difference these projects and trips can make to people’s lives in igniting their passions.
I recently visited the Avon Tyrrell outdoor learning centre in the New Forest and had a brilliant conversation with one of their Senior Outdoor Instructors, Jake.
Jake entered the outdoor industry through an apprenticeship with Avon Tyrrell, after attending a Prince’s Trust residential work placement trip to the outdoor centre.
He told me about how that work placement, and that experience, made him fall in love with the outdoors and instilled in him a determination to help other young people discover that same love.
On top of this scheme my Department, with the Youth Endowment Fund and Youth Futures Foundation is going to be launching a new Summer Jobs Programme for up to 2,600 young people, across England.
To make sure this programme is really targeted where it’s needed most, we’ll be working with local agencies, for example, pupil referral units, local authorities to ensure it reaches those most at risk of becoming involved in youth violence and crime.
These young people will be offered employment placements for up to six weeks, helping them to not only have something engaging to do, but to improve their life chances on the other side of the placement and help them choose the right path in life.
As well as both of these schemes, we’re supporting the UK Year of Service, alongside the National Citizen Service Trust.
The UK Year of Service is about helping those young people who are ready to take their first step into work, but who need some additional support to take it.
This programme is going to provide meaningful 9 to 12 months work placements to at least 100 young people, across the United Kingdom with the aim of setting them on a positive path towards long-term employment, education or training.
Once the placements are available later this year, young people will be able to apply directly to roles that inspire them and that they can contribute to the most.
All these programmes offer something slightly different, but all of them will give young people more of the ‘something to do’ in future.
We want to give more, more Jake’s and more Shamza’s the chance to thrive.
And I believe, taken together, we’ve been able to make a huge amount of progress in a relatively short amount of time.
But I know, and all of you know, that there is a long way to go.
I’m confident that all of you here today and all of us in Government share the same purpose and are pulling in the same direction.
You recognise the value of youth services and the sense of belonging they create among young people.
It is this sense of belonging and the social networks that come with these experiences and these programmes that is vital to improving the life prospects of young people in all parts of the country.
I am looking forward to working with you all to give young people a fair shot at maximising their potential, now and in the years ahead.