Youth Futures Foundation announces £2.3 million boost to tackle youth unemployment in Blackpool

Jul 11, 2024

Blackpool is set to receive a further £2.3 million investment to address systemic youth unemployment challenges within the town. Awarded by Youth Futures Foundation, the What Works Centre for youth employment, this substantial funding will develop and deliver solutions to support young people into employment over the next three years.

Connected Futures, a place-based grants programme launched by Youth Futures in 2022, has already invested over £380,000 in understanding the youth employment challenge in Blackpool over the last two years. With the latest announcement, Connected Futures funding represents five years of investment from Youth Futures, creating an opportunity for Blackpool to continue its town-wide approach to creating meaningful and sustainable systems change  that works for, and is shaped by, its young people.

Over the first two years of Connected Futures, the Blackpool partnership has worked with young people and local stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of the issues, barriers and systemic opportunities in the town. Following a testing and development phase, the partnership is equipped with the solutions needed to ramp up delivery to create local change.

Blackpool’s Connected Futures partnership is led by place-based change charity, Right to Succeed, who work alongside Blackpool Council, Blackpool & the Fylde College, Business in the Community, Blackpool Football Club Community Trust, Fylde Coast Academy Trust, Lancashire Careers Hub, Blackpool Youth Advisors, and parents/carers and professionals across the town.

In this next funding stage, the partnership will develop more effective town-wide data systems and a new employment-focused ‘Connected Curriculum’ for Blackpool’s secondary schools. Additionally, a town-wide framework will be established to ensure consistent, person-centred support for young people as they navigate their journey towards employment.

At the heart of this collective programme is the Blackpool Youth Advisor team. These young leaders are actively shaping the initiative by co-creating a Youth Leadership Blueprint, co-chairing the town’s Employment and Skills Board, and participating in the co-design of each programme workstream.

Barry Fletcher, CEO at Youth Futures Foundation, said:

“Following the success of the Connected Futures programme in Blackpool, we are pleased to announce this further investment to enable Right to Succeed and other members of the Blackpool partnership to continue the work that they’re doing to improve youth employment.

“Connected Futures has enabled us to leverage the strengths of the Blackpool community, by working with organisations and young people across the area, to create impactful local solutions that will help foster a thriving youth employment landscape.

“As part of our commitment to identifying what works for youth employment, we have commissioned an evaluation of the programme. This will allow us to gather valuable data and share best practices with other communities facing similar challenges. Our ultimate goal is to create a lasting impact on youth employment, not just in Blackpool, but across the country.”

Paul O’Neill, Deputy CEO at Right to Succeed, said:

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to continue working collectively with Youth Futures Foundation and the Blackpool Partnership to help create long-term, sustainable systems change in the town. No single organisation can solve complex problems such as youth unemployment alone, but by working together we can start to shift the dial on the issue both in Blackpool and at a national level by sharing our key learning, insight and practice.”

Andrew Speight, Blackpool Youth Advisor, comments:

“By placing a value on young people’s time and expertise, Youth Futures Foundation and the Connected Futures project has broken down barriers to intergenerational collaborative working in Blackpool, challenging socio-economic power dynamics that play out when some colleagues in a room are paid for their time and others are not. It has increased perceptions of legitimacy towards young peoples’ voices, influencing high-level, strategic work in the town to tackle systems-level challenges.”

Graham Cowley, Business in the Community, Place Director, Blackpool Pride of Place, comments:

“Being part of the Blackpool Partnership working on the Youth Futures Foundation Connected Futures programme has been a really positive experience to date. Our research has shown the importance of high quality workplace encounters in supporting young people’s careers journey and we are looking forward to working collaboratively with businesses, schools and young people over the next 3 years to embed this approach across the town.”

Cllr Kath Benson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Young People and Aspiration, said:

“This funding announcement is excellent news and I look forward to seeing the partnership develop so that the evidence, learning, and insights from the programme can create systemic change for youth employment in Blackpool.

“Youth participation is vital within the collaborative programme and the input from the Blackpool Youth Advisor team is invaluable and forms a key element of the council’s culture of coproduction. To break down barriers and improve access to employment for young people, it’s essential that the programme works for, and is shaped by, its young people.

“The partnership will help us to build on a key focus of our Making Blackpool Better vision to improve employment outcomes and opportunities for young people in Blackpool including those who are most disadvantaged.”

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