GUEST BLOG: UK Youth on a new initiative to strengthen links between business and youth organisations

Times are tough for us all but our young people are having it especially hard. A recent survey of 16-24 year-olds found that 54% of them would consider moving abroad to find work. With that in mind, a group of charities have come together to launch United Futures, an initiative designed to make it easier for businesses and organisations to support young people and work together.

According to Charlotte Hill, CEO of UK Youth, there are lots of businesses and youth charities that want to work together but they don't know how. "Through this initiative we hope to create win-win situations and bring communities together in the process," she says.

The project will promote the variety of ways businesses can support youth clubs and projects, beyond financial backing. But more importantly, it sets out to increase the number of businesses directly supporting clubs and projects in local areas. It will achieve this by building the capacity of youth organisations to work better with business through opportunities to network both online and face-to-face at new regional events. It will also create a range of downloadable resources about what businesses look for in charity partners.

The project is led by Business in the Community, UK Youth and the National Children's Bureau.

Business can provide support via work placements, volunteers, mentors, fundraisers and product donations as well as financial backing. The business benefits are numerous, including increased staff motivation, skills development and positive PR.

Gareth Mepham who manages the Wayz youth project in Reading says the club has benefited from working with local electronic design company Cadence for several years. "We've gained in so many ways since establishing a relationship with Cadence," he says. "Not only does a member of their team sit on our board, providing vital business perspective, but they donate many hours of staff time to work directly with our young people. They have also provided vital resources for club activities including prizes for our annual community open day."

Commenting on the project, Susanne Rauprich of Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services says, "It's important to keep in mind that this service is not about one partner going to the other, cap in hand, but about helping each to recognise, and act upon, the mutual benefits that partnership and collaboration offer."

For more information about United Futures click here: www.twitter.com/united_futures. If you have experience of supporting a local charity, please take a few minutes to complete this super short survey. Your comments will be used to shape resources available later in the year.

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