A new Youth Hub called Youth Flow has launched to support 100 young people living in Northern Devon into training or work.

The Youth Hub is part of the UK Government’s £30bn Plan for Jobs. Jobseekers across North Devon can now get extra help to find work, reskill for alternative careers and access training opportunities.

One Northern Devon – a partnership of organisations in Northern Devon including NHS, education, local authorities, police, fire and voluntary sector – has received funding from the Department for Work & Pensions to provide one-to-one, holistic support to young people.

The support takes into account individual needs, circumstances and backgrounds. The scheme will work with local employers, training providers and wider services to match them to the right opportunity. In addition, businesses who offer placements to young people will have access to a Workplace Wellbeing Programme, which will benefit all employees.

Recognising that young people between the ages of 16 to 24 have been particularly hard hit by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Youth Flow programme will support 100 young people from Northern Devon over the course of a year. It is particularly aimed at supporting young people who already had circumstances that made it difficult to look for work or training positions, such as those who are insecurely housed or have caring responsibilities.

Each of the 100 young people will get access to a Work Coach who will support the young person to build their own development plan and bring in other organisations to address barriers to work, such as housing support. Support will be provided both virtually and meeting face to face within the community.

Once in work, the young people will be allocated a workplace mentor to support them whilst in employment.

The One Northern Devon partnership recognises that many businesses are facing challenges at this time and is providing a Workplace Wellbeing Programme that includes mental health first aid training and a Workplace Wellbeing Champions Network. This will be accessible to micro and small businesses – a fantastic opportunity, given that often only larger, corporate businesses are able to access this type of programme.

One Northern Devon partners Encompass South West and TTVS, the voluntary sector organisation for Torridge, will bring their extensive experience of working with people with complex needs and supporting young people and will employ Youth Progress Coaches and a Lead Mentor.

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust is the lead partner in the scheme.

Suzanne Tracey, Chief Executive of Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust said:

“This scheme is so important and an example of the difference all of us can make for our community when we work together to tackle really difficult issues. As one of the largest employers in the region we know we have a significant role to play in offering careers to local people and we are proud to be part of the scheme.

“We know there are links between deprivation, unemployment and poor health and wellbeing in our community, so we understand the importance of acting together now to do whatever we can to prevent ill health for as many as possible.”

President of Barnstaple & District Chamber of Commerce Ltd, Paula Byers, is the business lead in the team behind the funding bid. Paula said:

“The Chamber has been pleased to help develop this project with One Northern Devon. We’re excited this investment in Northern Devon will offer support to those businesses taking on young people which complements the Government’s Kickstart Scheme Kickstart Scheme in Northern Devon.”

Paula continued: “In addition, the funding for the Wellbeing Programme will help to ensure a sustainable workforce across Northern Devon, as COVID has highlighted vulnerabilities in the mental and physical health of both employees and employers.”

Mims Davies MP, Minister for Employment, said

“By rolling out Youth Hubs across local communities like this one in North Devon, young people will be able to access vital, suitable support from our Work Coaches in a range of settings helping to match them with local opportunities whether it’s more training or to help them move into employment.

“This is a challenging time and we are serious about investing in young people as we get Britain back working again and moving further into recovery. That’s why, as part of our Youth Offer, we are also injecting £2 billion into the DWP Kickstart scheme, creating new, subsidised, high-quality roles for under 25s as we continue our work to protect, support and create jobs.”

The South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN) is supporting the evaluation of the Youth Flow work in Northern Devon. William Lilley, Progamme Director at SWAHSN, said:

“We have seen that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected many of our communities in the region, with the youngest members of society being amongst the hardest hit. As one of our Institute for Social Prescribing test beds, we are proud to be working with One Northern Devon to understand how different sectors can collaborate to address the root causes of health inequalities.”

The majority of referrals into the Youth Flow programme will come direct from DWP.

Paul Jones is the Youth Flow Co-ordinator and any queries can be directed to him at youthflow@bpag-encompass.org.uk