On March 26th, 2019 Southwark Council launched the Positive Futures Fund, which aims to provide the means for new initiatives that will involve and benefit young people in the borough. The total fund is £500K, to be spent between this Summer and 2022.
It is hoped that the projects or activities that the fund supports will increase the range of choices available to young people in the borough, promote wellbeing and ideally steer them away from violence or crime. This is important in itself, but I am pleased that the intention is for all projects to involve young people throughout – to plan, develop and deliver activities, not just to be the recipients of a service. Involvement will benefit the projects, ensuring that they identify meaningful goals, benefit the community and most importantly the young people included.
Community Southwark is supporting this initiative in two ways. Firstly, we have and will continue to co-deliver information events for the next phase, including content on involving young people in projects, and secondly, we are available to help new groups or organisations through the funding process. We hope that new groups of young people will emerge with game-changing ideas, and we are ready to help them navigate any red tape. This is at the core of our reason to exist – to nurture community activities that make life better for people.
Positive Futures Fund is a good step forward, because it is open to new ideas, and isn’t restricted to established organisations. The fund is operating in two phases; with the second offering greater sums deliberately, to enable new projects the time to develop and genuinely involve people.
Youth involvement and co-production are both mentioned in the supporting documentation – but what does that really mean? Involvement happens on a spectrum, starting with informing people and inviting comments (not much scope to change things), to co-production, where the people benefiting from a service or activity have an equal say in how things are developed and run. I outlined some benefits above, but it is important to recognise that involvement in decision making, developing ideas and running projects benefits people – learning new skills, working out how to work in groups and influencing.
Involvement means belonging and having a stake in a more positive future. It is rewarding and gives people a sense of achievement as well as experience they could take forward into a future career. It promotes confidence and having a say in an activity gives people ownership of some power, in a society that can make individuals feel powerless. The challenge for organisations is to have the courage to give some of their power away, but the benefits in terms of promoting originality and innovation can be immense.
What I would like to see happen through Positive Futures is that we see new projects emerge, doing things that we haven’t seen in the borough before, that are transformational or show us new ways to do things. It sounds like a lot, but it can be done if we are open to new ideas and are able to offer support to navigate that red tape.
We held 2 well attended information events on the Positive Futures Fund on the 4th & 11th April 2019. As a result, we are receiving a high volume of enquiries and therefore we may not respond immediately. The deadline for applications for Phase One is midnight on 3rd May. We can review applications and make comments and suggestions if you can get applications to us by the 1st May. But I will stress again that a good idea worked through with young people will be the key to a successful bid.
CEO, Community Southwark
For further information about the Positive Futures Fund and to apply click here.
Contact us at Community Southwark if you have an idea and would like support with your application to the fund: firstname.lastname@example.org