Youth Services

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The end of the summer holidays is fast approaching, have we seen the final acts of youth services as clubs and activities struggle to continue.

 

Youngsters in King’s Lynn park, Norfolk. Across the county around 300 youth projects have closed, as well as council-run youth centres. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

Much has been heard of the issues in inner city areas and indeed problems are large and significant. But it was interesting to see in the Society Guardian, Wednesday 24 August 2011 a whole page spread on the cuts to youth services in Norfolk, focusing on the town of King’s Lynn.There are many towns like King’s Lynn across the country and to quote Canon Bill Hurdman, whilst ministering in King’s Lynn,

It has all the problems of an inner city area without any of the buzz”

A group of young people are interviewed outside the supermarket, where they have already been banned from gathering in groups of more than two.

The youth centre at Providence St has been closed, not the most inspiring of places, but at least was a place they young people could go, talk to their mates, have some fun and maybe learn at the same time.

This loss is being replicated across the country. What effect will this have? More importantly how will the morale and aspirations of young people find a place in all our towns.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP, developing community projects.

Social entrepreneur – five cornerstones

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Starting a business, social or otherwise, is a leap of faith. Faith in yourself or your team, faith in your product or service and faith in your audience, customers or community of interest.

Below are some basic tenets to help your vision endure, each element when applied well will add to your chances of success, generate turnover and increase your capacity to generate surpluses…

 

1. Get your governance model right:

Whether you want to be a limited company, by guarantee or shareholding, a charity or a management committee within an existing organisation, dedicated to providing a service – then working hard to research, take advice and recognise the rationale for the way your organisation is structured will pay huge dividends later on.

2. Really know why you are doing it:

Understanding why your business and governance is structured the way it is tempers what people will think about your service. Clarity here will not only help you build effective internal management processes, but will also add to perceptions of your value with your customers or client base.

3. Share the knowledge:

Be open and honest with yourself and amongst your fellow board or committee members. Work hard to make sure that the clarity you have is shared and understood by all. Keep good minutes, business records and accounts – share them and talk about them together. Don’t have a ‘closet controller’ at the table.

If you are in the not for profit sector, have a new service and a shiny new web site – use it to publish that ethical procurement policy, use it to explain where your profits go, use it to make sure your mission is evident in your strapline. Don’t assume we will know.

4. Suppress the ego:

Charismatic, energetic and driven project leaders are part of start-ups. The hunter-gatherer can be a great asset when looking for new markets and new product opportunities. Remember though, that in businesses of all kinds the more pastoral, contemplative team member also has their role to play and skill set to offer.

Be bold by all means, but don’t be a bully.

5. Accept the risk:

Risk is part of any entrepreneurial activity. It’s not why you do it, but processes, people and products are never infallible. If you have energetically and intelligently pulled together your team, implemented your processes and delivered your service, then you will also know when the nerve endings are starting to jangle as failure or missed targets approach.

Embrace that feeling and use that same energy to drive forward the next phase of your business development.

Accepting risk doesn’t mean you have to be an Horatio on the bridge, lonely sword in hand facing the ravenous horde as they approach. By sharing and being open you can reach out for advice and help…there’s plenty out there.

(SmithMartin LLP provide ethical business, governance and distribution advice and support across a wide range of social enterprise, charity and private sector businesses.

Our web service writes effective, income generating copy and provides fault free, secure, best value software and hardware solutions – we are your enterprise ‘in the cloud’).

Charities, Community Groups
and where to from here…

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Charities face closures as local authorities slash funding, making the delivery of community projects somewhere between hard and impossible.

Acevo (the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) had already shown that the sector will lose £750 million this year if central and local government passed on cuts proportionately.’ Guardian Tuesday 2nd August 2011.

Research from False Economy shows that more than 2000 charities face cuts. Zoe Williams in the Guardian, Thurs 4th August 2011 says that ‘…philanthrocapitalism often looks a lot more like capitalism than it does philanthropy.’

Our partnership work is very much at the ground level; working with people in communities, the centres, the staff, the volunteers and children and families. There’s a lot of resilience and a feeling that although funding and support from the last few good years is coming to an end it doesn’t have to signify a finality to all the good work and the spirit of the community.

The problems have not gone away, they are now papered over or simply removed from the political agenda.

But community development is more than just provision of economic funding; social wealth, creative wealth and spirit of support remain.

There are ways through hard times, social enterprise being one, allowing you to be in charge of your own destiny and economic sustainability is a very powerful opportunity for good.

(Image courtesy of Ridgeway Park Children Centre )

SmithMartin Partnership LLP

Bringing communities together