Support to local initiatives has always been a major element of the Youth Strategy Development Fund. It encourages young peoples' active participation at a local level, giving them responsibility for assessing applications and making the final decision.
Due to the success of this aspect of the Development Fund, YouthBank UK granted the Youth Issues Unit as licence to operate as Dumfries & Galloway YouthBank in June 2006. Since then, the Youth Issues Unit and young people from the Youth Strategy Executive Group have promoted YouthBank to a range of youth groups, agencies and organisations, as well as supporting groups to make applications.
Dumfries & Galloway Youthbank assessors Adam Wilson, 16, from Lockerbie, Jordan Smith, 17, from Stranraer and Tarah Malcolmson, 23, from Dumfries took part in an Introduction to Grant Making Training accredited programme as part of a Youthbank Scotland Residential at Dounan's Outdoor Centre in Aberfoyle Falkirk. The Training provides young people with the opportunity to develop their skills in Youthbank Funding assessment and management, from which they will gain an SVQF level 4-5.
Caitlin McDowell, 16 from Glenluce also attended the residential and although she has already gained her SVQF Introduction to Grant Making qualification, she was elected on to the national Youthbank board during the AGM.
During the course of the weekend the young people developed skills in leadership, problem solving, team building and communication. Adam Wilson, who became a Youthbank assessor earlier this year said:
"The residential was a learning experience because we got to see how other Youthbanks work and it gave us ideas for our own [D&G] Youthbank. Through the training programme not only did I gain a national SVQF qualification but my confidence has increased in making me a better Youthbank assessor locally with our applications in Annandale & Eskdale."
Local groups complete a simple application form - young people must be fully involved in the development of the project including the application.
Receipt of the form in the Youth Issues Unit office is acknowledged as soon as it arrives. A copy is then sent to the appropriate local worker who discusses it with young YouthBank assessors. A 'site visit' is then arranged where the assessors meet with the applicant group. This is used to find out more about the project and ask questions/raise issues around the application. A recommendation is then made that is discussed with a larger group of young people.
The final decision is made and the group informed. A number of options are open to the assessors - support the application in total, make a partial award, turn down the application and, in a small minority of cases, award more than has been requested. Conditions can also be attached to any grant given. The maximum award at present is £750.
The above process usually takes no longer than eight weeks. A follow up report asking for an update on the impact of the funding, the actual numbers benefiting and the experience of the process is requested six months after the award is made and, in the majority of cases, another site visit takes place at that time.
Holywood Trust Award
In April 2010, the Council were unable to provide funding for the grant pot itself, although they were able to continue to provide local staff support for the project. Following a discussion with the Holywood Trust, Dumfries & Galloway YouthBank was asked to put in a bid for funding and was successful in receiving an award of £24,000 over two years in November 2010 in order to develop the project and increase funding opportunities for youth groups across the region.
What the award was used for
The Holywood Trust award allowed Dumfries & Galloway YouthBank to:-
Purchase a 'Voxur Box' - this is an excellent consultation tool that provides young people with the opportunity to express their views on a variety of relevant topics and issues and has been used regularly across the region by a variety of agencies, groups and organisations.
Increase the amount of funding for groups from £500 to £750.
Produce updated application forms, criteria leaflets and other promotional materials.
Host a relaunch event for Dumfries & Galloway YouthBank in the Urr Valley Hotel in Castle Douglas in order to raise awareness of the project and encourage applications from youth groups across the region.
Hold a team-building and training residential at Wiston Lodge where 19 young people achieved accredited training in Introduction to Grant Making and taking part in a range of other team-building activities.
Award a total of £9,940.50 to 16 different youth groups.