Press release

Government supports social action opportunities for young Britons

The government will work with the voluntary sector, schools and businesses to support a new generation of socially responsible young people.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The government will work with the voluntary sector, schools and businesses to support a new generation of socially active and responsible young people, Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said today.

The government believes that young people should be given the tools and opportunities to become better connected to each other and their communities across social and inter-generational divides.

Plans are being launched today to look at mapping out a social action journey which will point young people from the ages of 10 - 20 to opportunities such as the Scouts, Cadets, National Citizen Service (NCS) or the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which are available to them in their communities.

By forging better links between business and the voluntary sector it will make it easier for young people to access social action opportunities and learn new skills which will help them in their future careers. It will also reconnect them to their neighbourhoods and give them the sense of civic responsibility and pride for where they live.

To make these plans a reality the Prime Minister has asked Dame Julia Cleverdon and Amanda Jordan OBE to identify how the government, business, the voluntary and education sectors can work together to support a decade of social action for young people, which will:

  • create opportunities for social and intergenerational mixing
  • increase young people’s sense of social responsibility
  • improve their skills and value to future employers

The Prime Minister said:

I want to recognise and celebrate the great work that so many youth organisations do to help young people fulfil their potential. We have so many assets in this country: great institutions with years of experience working with young people, dedicated volunteers who give their time and energy to help the next generation, young people who want to do the right thing, innovative businesses and, I would add, a government committed through National Citizen Service to giving young people the opportunity to take part in a rite of passage programme.

I am delighted that Dame Julia Cleverdon and Amanda Jordan have agreed to help us answer a very simple question: how can we build on these assets and work together - charities, businesses and government - to expand the opportunities for young people to get involved and put something back.

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said:

This is part of our drive to create a generation of ‘work ready’, well-rounded young people with raised aspirations about their future. We want young people to care about where they live and work and feel empowered to make a difference.

We believe that it is important to start the process of engagement at an early age, which is why we are consulting on how business, charities and the government can work together to put in place opportunities to create a social action journey for young people.

As part of this effort, the government is already supporting a partnership between business and the voluntary sector. Today over £900,000 has been awarded to The National Youth Agency (NYA) and partner O2 Think Big who are match funding an additional £500,000 to give up to 5,000 young people, including 2500 National Citizen Service graduates, the opportunity to start their own social action projects from August 2012 through to September 2013.

Think Big is an innovative multi-million pound youth programme which backs young people across the UK and help them harness their ideas, energy and passion to run projects and campaigns in their local community.

The Prime Minister said:

It’s fantastic that the National Youth Agency, with O2, have been awarded funding from the government’s Social Action Fund to help thousands of young people to start and sustain their own projects in their communities. This is a great example of how government, charities and business can work together to help us build the bigger, stronger society we all want to see.

Fiona Blacke, National Youth Agency chief executive, said:

As a national youth work charity, we are hugely proud to be working in partnership with government, O2 our private sector partner and local delivery organisations to enable young people to become active citizens in their communities. We hope this will show people the positive contribution young people can make if they are just given a chance.

Ronan Dunne, CEO Telefonica UK said:

We welcome this initiative to further strengthen the support given to young people. The investment announced today, in Britain’s biggest asset, its young people, is imperative. Working with the National Youth Agency and Social Action Fund will allow us to extend the Think Big programme and work with more young people across the UK.

Across the country there are many great examples of the contribution young people are already making, thanks to the work of the charities and other organisations that support and inspire them. Organisations such as the Scouts, the Cadets and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards show that structured activities can help young people develop and promote a more cohesive, engaged and responsible society.

This summer up to 30,000 young people will have the chance to take part in National Citizen Service (NCS). NCS is an ambitious programme to develop the skills and potential of 16 and 17-year-olds which has been developed with charities and voluntary organisations. The independent evaluation from the first year of pilots are that NCS is having a positive impact with 95% of participants saying that NCS had given them the chance to develop more skills for the future, and 92% saying they would recommend NCS to a friend.

The idea of a decade of social action will create opportunities to connect NCS more closely with the exceptional work of existing youth programmes and other organisations, so that more young people are able to get involved from a young age. Part of this will be ensuring that NCS graduates who want to do more - over three quarters - have the opportunity to do so.

Mike McArthur, National Citizen Service Graduate said:

I was getting bored and losing motivation and knock backs when applying for work, even struggled to get out of bed in the mornings.

I went on National Citizen Service and I gained a sense of achievement, motivation, learnt to work as part of a team. It helped me to build my confidence by learning more about myself as a person. I did a lot of self-reflection. It has since led on to other volunteering opportunities and to full time employment with Young Devon as an integral part of events & enterprise team.

I feel it’s a great opportunity for young people to get involved, I would recommend any young person to do this as it built confidence, gave me motivation to get up in the morning, start believing in myself, made me think about my future and some gave me some direction, and that where I was headed was not the route I wanted to take.

Matilda Boyer, Guide said:

I get involved with volunteering and fundraising because, morally, it’s a good thing to do, and you get a real sense of pride from it. I enjoy doing things for others, and getting involved with organisations is so useful for interacting with others, gaining confidence and generally just socialising.

It’s incredibly important that young people get involved with as many things as they can. It allows you to be a more active member of your community and teaches you many valuable social skills - plus you can gain new friends along the way.

Notes to editors

  1. The consultation process will be led by Dame Julia Cleverdon, Vice President of Business in the Community and Amanda Jordan OBE who is joint Chair of Corporate Citizenship. It will be launched in June and will culminate in a report to the Prime Minister in the autumn. It will describe the decade of social action for young people and include an implementation plan which is supported by stakeholders across business, the voluntary and education sectors.
  2. Think Big is an innovative multi-million pound youth programme. It is designed to back young people across the UK and help them harness their ideas, energy and passion to run projects and campaigns in their local community. The initiative works by putting cash directly into the hands of the young people and supporting them to develop skills and to positively impact their community. In addition to the financial support, young people receive training and mentoring to help them tackle the issues that matter to them and affect them most.
  3. The NCS graduate programme’s aim is to create generations of socially active and responsible young people by maximising the impact of the core NCS programme.
  4. There are still some NCS places available this summer. If you are 16 or 17 and want to see if this opportunity is still available where you live, you should go to the National Citizen Service website or

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Published 13 June 2012