Duke of Edinburgh award project faces closure

A project to help young people get involved in education is in jeopardy because its funding has been pulled.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Youth Participation Team currently supports 48 young people working towards Duke of Edinburgh Awards, and another 81 to achieve Arts Awards.

Young people involved in the project are described as facing multiple barriers to education and include those with special educational needs, disabilities and mental health issues.

The annual £100,000 cost of running the project comes from the National Collaboration Outreach Programme (NCOP), which aims to double the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in higher education by 2020.

However, changes in funding access to higher education means NCOP can no longer pay for the awards.

Speaking at Monday’s children, young people and skills committee, Conservative Councillor Vanessa Brown said she was disappointed to see the project in danger.

She said: “The report states that alternative sources of funding are being explored but I wondered where we were with this as I believe these awards can have a very beneficial effect on young people’s lives.

“They give them opportunities to learn skills such as teamwork, problem solving and endurance which can be very important in helping to boost their self esteem.

“I do think it is very important that we continue to find the money for this work.”

Caroline Parker, the council’s head of early years and family support said the council has enough money to run the scheme for the rest of the financial year.

Everyone currently enrolled will complete their awards – but unless more funding is secured, no new students will be signed up in September.

Options for future funding include approaching the Arts Council and asking schools to contribute.

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