Oxfordshire youth schemes awarded share of £1m fund

Voluntary and community organisations have been awarded a share of Oxfordshire County Council’s new £1m Youth Opportunity Fund, it has been announced.

The fund is aimed at groups that can provide activities and opportunities for young people between the ages of 11-18, and 11-25 special educational needs.

Feedback from Oxfordshire residents points to strong support for improving community-run youth services. This new fund was made available to help existing projects expand and new ones get started. The successful bids will now receive grants of up to £70,000 over the next few months.

By offering start-up funding in previous years, the council has already helped many community-run groups provide support for younger children and families. Now the aim is to do the same for youth services.

Community-run youth schemes complement the work of the county council’s children’s services, which target resources at young people and families with additional needs and those at risk of abuse and neglect. The council also has a desire for more youth clubs to be established.

The county council believes communities are well placed to provide universal services and this is already an established model in Oxfordshire.

A fund was launched in 2016 to provide grants for local groups to start services for children such as ‘stay and play’, with the creation or continuation of around 40 projects. A similar fund was created for voluntary and community groups to start up day services for older and disabled people in Oxfordshire.

Councillor Mark Gray, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Local Communities, said: “People in their individual local areas, towns and villages know best what is good for their community and where they’d like to see more on offer.

“This is an exciting scheme, designed to offer teenagers in those communities the chance to have their own space to pursue their own interests and the company of other young people in a safe environment. This fund gives community-based organisations the opportunity to fund staff to work with young people.

“Oxfordshire’s thriving communities share the county council’s ambition to give every child a good start in life and we are looking forward to working with them with this additional money.”