Independence secures future for Devon’s Youth Service

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Authored by Exeter News Blog
Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 9:13am

Devon’s youth services will be run by a new and independent organisation from 1 February.

DYS Space Ltd, a not- for profit Public Sector Mutual established with the support of Devon County Council, has been appointed to run the county’s youth services for the next three years following a major review of the service, widespread public consultation and a robust procurement process.

The move will see Devon, which is one of only a few local authorities still to provide a universal youth service, invest more than £5m to ensure professional community-based services for young people continue to be provided across the county.

With a rigorous three year business plan, DYS Space Ltd Chief Executive, Kevin Henman, is confident that they can keep the service on firm financial footing while continuing to develop the kind of services young people and local communities need and want.

He says: “Devon’s youth services are highly valued and supported, and Space is committed to continuing this excellent track record by promoting the safety, welfare and development of young people and their communities.

“One of the keys to our success will be enhanced collaboration with partners and communities to ensure that young people receive the support and advice they need to realise their potential and to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

“As an independent organisation operating as a social enterprise, we will be more dynamic and entrepreneurial in our approach and be able to maximise opportunities to draw in additional resources for Devon’s young people.

“By providing open access youth provision, alternative education services, targeted youth work, focussed Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme work and a range of support for many other voluntary sector organisations across Devon, we aim to provide a continuum of services that are flexible to meet young people’s needs as those needs change through their teenage years.”

The Council, which is under continuing pressure to make financial savings, took the decision to put the Youth Service out to tender last year to help protect it and give a new provider the opportunity to develop new ways of working, access new sources of funding and attract investment not available to a local authority.

The Council will retain responsibility for its statutory responsibilities towards young people including child protection and early help services.

Councillor Barry Parsons, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for youth services, said: “We have an important responsibility to support young people, especially those who are more vulnerable, to protect them from harm, help them establish good relationships and engage positively in their communities as they grow into adults.

“Releasing the youth service from within the council gives it the opportunity to develop and expand with greater freedom and flexibility, and doing this by creating an independent social enterprise from the existing service provides consistency, continuity and sustainability for young people, which is really important.

“An immense amount of hard work has gone in to getting this far, and I am pleased that we have managed to protect the service from further budget reductions and keep our highly respected youth workers running the service for young people and their communities.

“Under the care of DYS Space Ltd, our youth services will remain professional and well-focussed, delivering services young people want and need through a network of youth hubs open to all and targeted support for vulnerable individuals through schools and in local communities.”

Chair of Trustees for Space, Melanie Walker, said: "This is an exciting opportunity to develop Youth Services for Devon.  I have been struck by the huge commitment and enthusiasm of the staff to work with young people to support them through adolescence to become confident, capable adults is inspiring.  Space’s new independence provides a fantastic opportunity to build upon this enthusiasm and commitment and the energy of young people and support them to fulfil their potential."

DYS Space Ltd will continue to deliver a broad range of early help and support services for children and young people, and their families. This includes an open access youth service at the eight youth hubs in Tiverton, Barnstaple, Exeter, Totnes, Okehampton, Newton Abbot, Bideford and Exmouth and some provision at Cranbrook until the planned permanent facility has been built.

Youth workers will provide a mix of open to all services and targeted support for vulnerable young people across local communities. They will also continue to provide professional support, advice and guidance to communities and volunteer groups that work with young people and help in development of a broader network of youth clubs and community projects.

Working out of the Red Rock Youth Centre in Dawlish and other centres, DYS Space Ltd will provide alternative education packages and open youth work sessions (delivered with local partners) for secondary schools pupils who have behavioural problems which disrupt their learning; emotional, social or mental health needs; or who are extremely vulnerable due to personal issues.

Young people with special educational needs, at risk of exclusion or not in education, employment or training will also be supported to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme programmes.

For more information please contact Space at or call 01392 662112.