Council launches £5m youth services mutual

Gabriella Jozwiak
Monday, February 6, 2017

A council in the south west of England has handed the running of its youth services to an independent social enterprise that will be backed with £5m of funding over the next three years.

The not-for-profit, public sector mutual DYS Space Ltd is offering open-access youth work from eight youth hubs across Devon.

The decision to hand services to the new organisation followed a public consultation into plans to cut £970,000 of youth service spending in 2014, which led to the youth club closures and job losses. 

All of the council's remaining youth service staff have transferred to the new organisation, which is run by nine trustees.

DYS Space Ltd will deliver early help and support services for children and their families. It will also provide "alternative education packages" to children at risk of exclusion from mainstream school, and open youth work sessions for secondary school pupils experiencing behavioural problems, emotional, social or mental health needs, or those who have been identified as vulnerable due to personal issues.

Kevin Henman, chief executive of DYS Space Ltd, who was formerly head of service at Devon County Council, said: "As an independent organisation operating as a social enterprise, we will be more dynamic and entrepreneurial in our approach and be able to maximise opportunities to draw in additional resources for Devon's young people."

In addition to its £5.25m contract with the council over three years, the organisation will seek to increase its finances by gaining charitable status, which will allow it to apply for grants and funding.

It also plans to bid for tenders to run other services for young people. 

Devon County Council will retain responsibility for its statutory responsibilities towards young people including child protection and early help services.

Devon County Council's cabinet member responsible for youth services Barry Parsons said the arrangement would provide "consistency, continuity and sustainability for young people".

"An immense amount of hard work has gone into getting this far, and I am pleased that we have managed to protect the service from further budget reductions and keep our highly respected youth workers running the service for young people and their communities," he said.

It is the second youth mutual to launch in the past six months. In September 2016, the London Borough of Lewisham Council handed the delivery of its youth services to employee- and young person-led youth mutual Youth First

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