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Youth volunteering charity vInspired collapses

JANUARY 21, 2020

The charity has helped more than a million young people volunteer since 2006, but its funding levels tumbled after the coalition government introduced the National Citizen Service in 2010 and it can no longer survive financially.

The youth volunteering charity vInspired, set up under the last Labour government to provide social action opportunities for 14- to 25-year-olds and with more than £100m of public funding, is to close with the loss of 20 jobs. Staff at the charity's London headquarters will be made redundant on 27 November.

V, as the charity was known until 2011, was set up in 2006 on the recommendation of the Labour government's Russell Commission to encourage more diverse youth volunteering and was lavishly funded by the government in its early years with the Office of the Third Sector, later renamed the Office for Civil Society, awarding it £117m for the 2008-2011 spending period.

But it has faced huge financial challenges over the last six years with its income falling dramatically when the Conservative-led coalition, elected in 2010, switched support to the NCS in 2011. Information on the Charity Commission website shows spending higher than its income in five of the last six years. In 2016/17, it had an income of £9.3m but outgoings of £11.4m - a deficit of £2.1m. In 2015/16 its expenditure was £8.4m, while its income was £7.8m. Ironically, most of vInspired's £9.2m income for the year ending 31 March 2017 came from being a delivery partner for NCS and vInspired Education, a regional provider of NCS scheme in the north-east of England that employs 25 staff, will continue.

Earlier this year the charity launched a major UK-wide reward card scheme – the Inspired Card which rewards young people for volunteering. It invested £500,000 of its own money in the initiative, match funded by the Big Lottery and government-backed #iwill Fund, which promotes social action. So far 15,000 young people have signed up for it.

All those delivering services to young people, whether in the statutory or voluntary sector need to join forces with lobbying organisations such as ChooseYouth and strengthen the call to government that they must recognise the need for urgent investment for ‘youth services’. An attempt to do anything about the situation facing young people without providing the necessary resources or addressing key structural issues is futile. 

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