YPAC aims to encourage and support the social integration of marginalized young people aged 10 -19 in Miles Platting and Ancoats in Manchester, enabling them to build their skills and self esteem, increase their aspirations and become responsible community members as a practical expression of God’s love for the community. Miles Platting and Ancoats are in the top 1% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation. Decades of unemployment and other symptoms of poverty have combined with high levels of alcohol abuse, violence and drug use. These two wards have the lowest secondary school attendance in Manchester and the highest level of young people leaving school with no qualifications.
The research was conducted through consultation with community members, agencies, young people, schools and using statistics of deprivation from wards and diocese. The statistical material included Census data provided through the Diocese, local statistics from Manchester City Council using the Index of Multiple Deprivation data on issues affecting young people.
A small grant from the Diocese of Manchester Parish Mission Fund, followed by a grant from Church Urban Fund, paid for a worker to consolidate the research done voluntarily, submit further funding proposals and begin pilot projects with young people. At this stage the worker was supported by some young volunteers from the Churches’ Brigade Unit.
By January 2007 YPAC had secured major grants from The Big Lottery and BBC Children in Need and employed our first full-time worker to the Transitions Project. A second worker started later that year to develop the generic youth work with older young people.
Since that time, YPAC has developed into the primary provider of youth work in the Miles Platting and Ancoats area. It now runs a variety of projects for the benefit of local young people. YPAC:
· Provides, with young people's involvement, a range of activities, information support and opportunities for personal development which enable them to enjoy and achieve. On average we offer activities to young people 6 times a week after school, at weekends and during the school holidays. These may be drop-in or project based. Activities have recently included drama, dance, cooking, football, water sports, girls' projects, trapeze, photography, DJ-ing and trips and residentials.
· Delivers regular outreach sessions, meeting young people in the community.
· The Transitions Project identifies young people in year 6 who are at risk of dropping out of education and engages them in a 3 year programme of individual support and group work which helps to raise their aspirations and enables them to stay in and benefit from school.
· Provides young people with the opportunity to contribute positively to the community and to the regeneration of their neighbourhood. Young people have helped to run fun-days, cleared the community garden, organised a car wash, interviewed staff, and raised funds for activities.
· Runs an active youth forum – SOLE (Shout Out Loud Everyone). It meets regularly to look at how it can make a difference to YPAC and to the community. Two members are on the YPAC Board of Directors.
· Offers individual support and advice to young people and refers them to specialist agencies if required.
YPAC has been operating now for 6 years. For the first 4½ years YPAC was legally responsible to the PCC of the Church of the Apostles. In order to recognise and successfully fundraise for the growing work of the project, YPAC decided to become a separate charity, with the two Churches as founding members. The existing management committee became the Board of Directors and we began to operate as a Company Limited by Guarantee and a Charity on 1st April 2010.
The staff team comprises the Project Manager (30 hours), an Administrator (18 hours), Senior Youth Worker (35 hours), a Youth Worker (16 hours), Transitions Worker (23 hours), sessional staff each doing 5 hours and a voluntary Volunteer Co-ordinator.
At first we needed to raise £120,000 per year. This year’s budget is £143,000, although we originally wanted £180,000. In addition to funding from trusts, we have contracts with the City Council Youth Service and schools. Since the inception in 2005, sources of grants have included: CUF, Church and Community Fund, Council for Social Aid, the Local Network Fund, BBC Children in Need, Lloyds TSB Foundation, the John Davies Trust, The Big Lottery Fund, Manchester Kids (Key 103), Manchester City Council Cash Grants, Youth Capital Fund, Youth Opportunity Fund, the Methodist Church, the Outward Bound Association, Manchester City Council and Connexions. We have very few donations and charges to young people are similarly very limited. We are only financially secure for this financial year, although we have £60,000 towards the following two years plus some small reserves.
We also needed volunteer time to get started. I did initial pilot work with local young volunteers from the Church’s Brigade unit. However the work is not sustainable with volunteers and much of it is too specialised. Now we are trying to use volunteers more but without being dependent on them. At the moment they probably contribute a regular 5 hours per week.
In addition, I have accessed strategic support and training from various secular bodies, both Voluntary Youth Manchester and GIO (Growing Independent Organisations) in Manchester and nationally from Porticus UK which gives free training about strategy and marketing.
· engaged 205 young people in activities and events.
· awarded 108 young people certificate for commitment or progress.
· seen 61 young people achieve recorded outcomes.
· supported 34 young people in the transition from primary to secondary school.
· involved 14 young people in project management through SOLE.
· enrolled 21 young people on ASDAN awards, which offer an imaginative way of developing, recording and certificating young people’s personal achievements with gold, silver and bronze awards. Students are required to carry out challenges over 60 or 120 hours and recognise their skill development.
· offered 28 young people one-to-one support.
· helped 49 young people make a positive contribution to the community.
A key factor is being locally based and, having been here for 6 years now, we are known and respected and thought to be reliable. We stay with young people from 10 years old to 19 years and the longevity of relationships is particularly important for some. Another significant feature is that this is more than a youth programme. We are part of the community, working within both schools and more widely and we do a lot of family support.
Beyond these factors, it takes enormous drive and commitment to make it work. As the Chair said in the Annual Report: “Over the past year I have seen our staff rejoice in and with young people, as well as weep with and for them. I have seen that within YPAC we have staff who are dedicated enough to respond to crucial needs even if, on some occasions, that takes them way beyond the ‘inconvenient’ and into the wee small hours and time off. YPAC is a professionally run project and it is also a work of the heart.”
Working in a very deprived and isolated area can be hard. The community can be resistant, not because it is a church project but because it seems to represent ‘authority’. This is again where staying in the area and becoming known and trusted is so important.
It would also be good to be able to tune in more to good practice elsewhere, but the obstacle is time.