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Solace blog

25th September 2015

OnSide Youth Zones – Delivering Innovation and Value in Youth Services

The success of our society will ultimately be shaped by the investment we make in future generations. Youth Services has a vital role to play – particularly through early intervention and reducing pressure across areas such as education, health, welfare, and crime.

Faced with restricted local authority budgets, service providers must innovate and provide robust, sustainable solutions that deliver a quantifiable return on investment (ROI) for the public purse.

This is exactly what OnSide Youth Zones was established to deliver.

We are building a UK-wide network of high-quality facilities which provide young people with affordable access to a broad range of sport, arts, health and employability services designed to raise aspirations, enhance prospects and improve health and wellbeing.

Our proven approach is based around community co-operation, best practice operational frameworks and an innovative multi-sector funding model.

Since 2008 this model has generated over £70 million by combining public, private and third sector contributions with operating revenue generated by the facilities.

By unlocking diversified and sustainable revenue streams we’re enabling local authorities to deliver high-quality services through a vehicle that is not overly reliant on the public purse.

Measuring the outcomes delivered by this spend is essential.

We recently commissioned a study which found the ROI for the public sector contribution towards operating a Youth Zone is over 600% – with local authorities able to demonstrate £6.65 of societal benefits delivered for every £1 of public money spent.

The research showed that 70% of young people attending a Youth Zone are exercising regularly each week and 80% reported getting better marks in class.

Prevention-wise, over 70% said they were staying out of trouble since they started attending and 89% of business owners located near a Youth Zone said they felt it made a positive contribution to tackling antisocial behaviour.

The report concluded that the full ROI figure could be significantly higher if we factored in our full range of universal and targeted services, the value of early intervention achieved through onward agency referral and direct job creation.

It’s this demonstrable impact on local communities which is driving the adoption of our model by local authorities across the UK.

Our network has six operational Youth Zones, two more are set to be completed in 2016 and a further 12 are at various stages of planning. This summer we struck agreements with Barking and Dagenham and Barnet Borough Councils to create the first two Youth Zones in London.

There is so much more to say about the innovation, impact, and growth of OnSide Youth Zones. I hope to get the chance to meet you at the Solace Summit and discuss how we could work together to support your community.

By Kathryn Morley, Chief Executive, OnSide Youth Zones