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07 May 2024

YIF Refurbishment Grants: Transforming grass roots youth services

Launched in August 2022, the UK Government funded Youth Investment Fund, worth over £300 million, was designed to transform youth services in some of the country’s most disadvantaged areas and give more young people new opportunities to have fun, make friends and develop vital skills for life and work. The fund is delivered by Social Investment Business in partnership with Key Fund, National Youth Agency, and Resonance.

Early on in delivering the fund, we recognised that smaller and grassroots youth services needed a relatively modest investment to renovate their service, make it sustainable and reach more young people. And many youth services did not have the capacity, resources, or infrastructure to apply for a large capital grant and all that entailed.

Creating a level playing field

We wanted to create a level playing field and make sure that no eligible youth service missed the opportunity to transform their youth project. In March 2023 we launched the Youth Investment Fund Refurbishment Grant Scheme, offering small grants of up to £150K (plus revenue funding). We developed a simple application process to make it easy for youth services to benefit. Grant applications to this new strand of the fund ranged from £11K to the upper limit.

The grants covered a wide range of improvements, including roof repairs, making the space accessible, insulation, fitting new doors, windows, kitchens, and bathrooms, fitting a new boiler, electrical improvements, or anything else that improved the youth service and enabled it to reach more young people.

Many of the youth centres awarded a Refurbishment Grant have already reaped the benefits, with several only taking three months to complete. So far around thirty projects have finished their building work and young people are enjoying their revamped space.

To date we have officially announced 84 Refurbishment Grants worth over £8 million. Grants were awarded to a wide range of grass roots organisations including the Scouts, Guides, Sea Cadets, Community Centres, and many smaller Council led youth services, from Gateshead to Kings Lynn, and Manchester to Camborne. These grants will enable youth services to reach an additional 6200 young people per week.

Patrick O’Kelly , Senior Relationship Manager for Resonance, has led the Refurbishment Grants delivery programme. Reflecting on the scheme’s impact, Patrick O’Kelly said:

“The Refurbishment Grant Programme is transforming grassroots youth services right across England. The impact is far greater than just bricks and mortar. It is enabling more young people to benefit from new activities in sustainable and accessible spaces, and creating places that the whole community can enjoy.”

The Youth Investment Fund has a ripple effect; its impact is greater than the sum of its parts. It also means more volunteering opportunities, greater staff development programmes, and the funding and associated publicity is raising the profile of smaller youth services and creating openings for future investment. The fund is a lasting legacy for young people and their communities.

Patrick O'Kelly
Senior Relationship Manager for Resonance

The Impact of Youth Investment Fund Refurbishment Grants

One of the youth centres benefiting from the fund is Sefton’s Crosby Scout District. Their old 1960s Scout Hut was long past its sell by date and had not been used since pre-pandemic times. Thanks to a Refurbishment Grant of just over £160K, alongside funding from a charitable trust and Sefton Council, the Scout Hut has had a major  refurbishment, creating a great new HQ for Crosby’s Scouts and Explorers. The Scout Hut completed it’s building works in late April 2024.

Key Fund’s Alex Welsh, Relationship Manager (Youth Investment Fund) said

“Key Fund knows well the outsized impact that relatively modest amounts of funding can help community-based organisations create. It has been incredibly rewarding working with Crosby District to see a derelict building transform into something that feels completely new at a fraction of the cost (and carbon) of a new build. The success here is testament to the hard work of the volunteers at Crosby District and will establish this site as a place for young people to forge new memories and friendships for decades to come.”

Crosby District’s refurbishment project was a big undertaking. Works included replacing the 1960s wiring, new insulation, and flooring, plus the addition of solar panels which has made it cheaper to run. New UPVC windows, doors, and external cladding, have made it more sustainable and created a modern and welcoming space. Making the building accessible was an essential element of the modernisation, with new bathroom facilities and larger doors. A new kitchen and activity space, plus greater security, including outdoor lighting, CCTV, and an alarm system, have made the space more attractive to and safer for everyone.

The renovation means that over 100 young people a week can enjoy what Scouts do best – having fun, trying new things, gaining vital skills for life, and making memories to last a lifetime. The Scout hut will be a vibrant new space for young people and the whole community, and it is hoped that the project will help Crosby District secure further funding to create a new external multi-use building.

Crosby Scout District’s new youth space.

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