Manchester. Snow gone and its relatively warm up north! A great meeting with members as part of our ACEVO silver jubilee and then the launch of our youth unemployment commission report.
Sometimes it's good to be reminded just how brilliant and dynamic our sector can be! I had a visit and meeting today with the Director of of 42nd St, a youth project in manchester led by the excellent Vera Martins. I like Vera; she is a star.
And of course it was good to see them following our Commission's report ( shame much coverage was swallowed up in the soap opera of fratricidal rivalry - why do we have a media more obsessed with ephemera than the tragedy unfolding on youth? )
42nd St have been here 30years. Originally the vision of a youth worker and local councillor set the project up to work with young people( 13-25 ) with stress , isolation and mental illness by working in schools and one to one with youth.
Their approach is that the young people should be in control. They specialise in services for the hardest to reach- so kids not going to youth clubs for example, homeless or stuck in youth hostels or what we used topcall " In care".
Because they believe in voice of young person they have 3 kids on their board of 11.
And what was so cool is that they deigned their own building. And it is an architectural gem- a moving wall and interview rooms accessed through wardrobes ( see below).
I'm there primarily as the SIB Chair. I like to visit organisations we have made loans to ( I visit Fairfields, a composting social enterprise in Manchester market in the morning). SIB have made a large investment in 42nd St to enable them to build this 1m silver building. They see that the built design can be part of the therapeutic process. And it is!
We talked about the Commission's approach. Vera was concerned that everyone wants a " quick fix" . But these are very damaged or isolated people . 40% are self referrals. They are offered different options from structured support one to one or say a depression group or less structure like a drop in group. There are currently 900 kids engaged.
They have a turnover of some 1m pa with 30 staff- mostly full time.
60% of their revenue comes from contracts. Rest from charity , foundations etc. There is not much trading income but they are working on that!
A major issue for kids is revolving door. She says place- continuity hugely important. Stability crucial. So a place important- as in their new building. And staff.
She says there is a real problem on FCR. They had made real progress on this but it is going backwards as funders cut grants and contracts. The BBC children in need for example have such a policy ; say they only funding direct project costs!