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Young people

Understanding how best to support young people
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We know that young people need special support in key transitions points in their life. These include moving to secondary school and coming to the end of compulsory education. Something else we know is the importance of education and training.

We want to know more though. Our programme evaluations highlight what works and where challenges arise. Identifying these issues helps us learn how to plan better programmes next time and helps you to plan the most effective projects. Here you can find out what we’ve learnt from working with young people.

Engaging young people

Engaging young people can take many forms. You could engage young people in activities. Through this, they could become more engaged in the economy and society more widely.


97% of Young People's Fund participants developed new skillsWe've seen that young people can gain a number of benefits from engaging with projects:

  • participation helps young people to develop skills for future employment. It can also change their outlook to encourage positive choices, particularly regarding attitudes towards school
  • actively involving young people in planning projects can change the culture in youth organisations more widely. It allows young people to shape services that affect them – in doing so, it can help them further develop valuable skills
  • engaging young people helps them to make a positive contribution to their local community. It helps reduce the likelihood of anti-social behaviour and promotes active citizenship.

Factors for success

Identifying factors which contribute to success can help us to use this knowledge going forward. Some important aspects include:97% of Activities for Young People participants would recommend it to a friend

  • offering different sized grants to different groups to help reach a broader range of young people
  • linking up with local infrastructure to help identify gaps in services and meet young people’s needs more holistically
  • peer recruitment to help engage hard to reach young people.


We acknowledge that different approaches can work in different areas, however. Our Activities for Young People programme used different approaches across the UK. Subsequently, different results became evident:


  • The programme helped young people make more informed choices about education, training and employment.

Northern Ireland

  • Successful joint working between stakeholders was encouraged at a time of significant policy change. The programme may well have driven some of the new agenda and many of those involved identified learning that can be applied far more widely. As a result there were good prospects for mainstreaming the type of work that we supported.


  • The programme offered a range of approaches to identify and respond to local needs and priorities. Timeliness and flexibility made it more likely that projects and activities would be sustained after our support ended.


Projects can face strong challenges in identifying, engaging and retaining young people from target groups. This can lead to projects recruiting a much wider range of young people with differing needs.

Going forward

Areas to consider when developing future projects for young people include:

  • operating on a small, focused scale, perhaps as part of a wider youth activities programme
  • standardising systems for tracking participants and young people in general. Improved monitoring is important for day-to-day management and providing evidence of effectiveness.

Young Start

The Young Start programme in Scotland distributes money from dormant bank and building society accounts, creating opportunities for children and young people between the ages of 8 to 24 to realise their potential.

Young Start projects involve children and young people in the design, delivery and management of projects, and take an asset-based approach, making the most of what the children and young people, and the communities they live in, can bring to the projects.

At the end of 2014 we carried out an evaluation of the programme, including some case studies. Key points from the research:

  • £16,647,428 was awarded to 393 projects
  • Participating in projects had multiple and interconnected benefits for young people
  • The ‘Confident’ outcome was the most popular of the four programme outcomes
  • More than 50 per cent of projects targeted young people aged 14 to 19.

Read the report and case studies for further information.

More about the research

Activities for Young People

Activities for Young People was an initiative which we ran between 2002 and 2007 in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. It focused on supporting young people at key transitions in their lives such as:

  • moving to secondary school
  • coming to the end of compulsory education.

Through the programme we invested almost £45 million in supporting young people at risk of losing contact with education and training opportunities.

We commissioned SQW to carry out an evaluation of the programme so we could learn what worked well and what didn’t work as well.

Young People’s Fund

The Young People’s Fund is a collection of programmes that ran across the UK from 2004. We invested more than £200 million in the programme across a range of projects.

This programme focused on supporting disadvantaged or vulnerable young people. It also highlighted the importance of actively involving young people in planning and running projects.

We commissioned GEN Consulting and Wavehill Consulting to carry out a five-year evaluation for us from 2006. The evaluation considered the overall success of projects and programmes. It also had a strong focus on considering approaches to effective involvement by young people.

Full details of the evaluations are available under our publications list below. The list also includes good practice guides, as well as annual reports from programmes.


Activities for Young People

Activities for Young People evaluation report
Activities for Young People evaluation report summary
Activities for Young People: Preparing for the future (Northern Ireland)
Activities for Young People second evaluation report summary
Activities for Young People second year: England
Activities for Young People first year report
Activities for Young People first year report summary
Activities for Young People first year report: Northern Ireland
Activities for Young People first year report: Wales

Young People's Fund

Young People’s Fund evaluation report
Young People’s Fund case studies
Young People's Fund fourth annual report
Young People's Fund third year report
Young People's Fund third year report (Scotland)
Young People's Fund second annual report
Young People's Fund second annual report summary (Scotland)
Young People's Fund first annual report
Working with young people good practice guide