From education to employment

Government response to the Full Time Social Action Review

TRACEY CROUCH MP, Minister for Sport and Civil Society

In January 2018, the report of Steve Holliday’s Review into Full-Time Social Action for Young People was published. The Review was designed to look at how to increase young people’s participation in full-time social action by considering the challenges and benefits for young people and the experiences of organisations supporting them.

The report contains 8 recommendations aimed at government, the VCSE sector and businesses, which are designed to remove the barriers discouraging participation and create an environment where full-time social action opportunities are more accessible.

The government response addresses each of these recommendations in turn:

I am grateful to all the work, time, energy and enthusiasm that Steve Holliday and the expert panel have committed to the Review of Full-Time Social Action for Young People and am pleased to respond to the report on behalf of the Government.

We know that participation in social action from a young age has a profoundly enriching effect on young people’s lives. Social action enables young people to develop a range of skills and outlooks such as problem solving, cooperation, grit and resilience, empathy and an enduring sense of community.

The 2017 National Youth Social Action Survey showed that young people who had participated in social action in the past 12 months had stronger personal networks and higher life satisfaction than those who have never done any social action. It also highlighted that young people who take part in social action experience a range of further benefits – 61% took part in more sport and exercise and 81% stated a belief of improved future job prospects.

By taking part in social action, young people are given the opportunity to discover more about themselves, their peers, their communities and the world around them while giving something back to their local areas.

Social action brings communities together, fosters greater understanding between young people from different backgrounds and gives young people a stake in society. We therefore want to increase the breadth and quality of social action opportunities available and encourage more young people to participate, give back to their communities and continue their social action journeys into adulthood. 

The #iwill campaign coordinated by the charity Step Up To Serve is one of the key ways in which we will realise this ambition. Over 850 partners have pledged to support the movement and offer opportunities for young people to engage in social action. The £40 million #iwill fund, jointly funded by Government and Big Lottery Fund, is designed to provide financial backing to these aspirations and build on the commitments made. 

I want to thank all the individuals and organisations that engaged with the Review consultation, especially the young people who took the time to reflect on their own experiences of participation in social action on both a full and part time basis, providing us with an invaluable evidence bank. 

These young people have painted a divided picture of full-time social action opportunities. For some, full-time social action was a way of re-calibrating their futures and making positive changes to their lives and outlooks. Respondents reported that full-time social action was ‘confidence building’, a ‘distraction from personal problems’, and was a ‘good part of rehabilitation’. 

However, young people also highlighted the barriers that they faced when taking part or considering whether or not to take part in full-time social action opportunities. 

Young people cited a lack of adequate financial support to cover living costs, implications for social housing and study, and caring commitments as impediments affecting their ability and desire to take part in full-time social action. 

Based on this feedback from young people, I welcome this report, which sets out a series of steps that Government, the VCSE sector and business can take to change the environment to make full-time social action opportunities more accessible and to remove the barriers discouraging participation, but has not called for large scale change at this stage

Beyond the response here to the recommendations of the review, I will be setting out the Government’s vision for social action and the role of Government in creating the right conditions to support social action to flourish as part of the forthcoming Civil Society Strategy. The Strategy will articulate a long term plan to help shape the future of the country we want to live in. 

I will continue to monitor how other Government departments and organisations named in the Report follow up on the review, and remain committed to ensuring that young people from across England can take part in a continuous social action journey, a journey that may include full-time opportunities where appropriate, and develop a habit for life.

TRACEY CROUCH MP, Minister for Sport and Civil Society

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