A grant to Romsey-based Youth Options is enabling it to become more resilient, impactful and sustainable as a result of the HIWCF Including Communities Fund. Founded in 1937, Youth Options believes passionately that every child and young person has the potential to realise their abilities and aspirations, and to make a valuable contribution to their communities. The organisation works with young people in a wide range of situations, including those in care, care leavers, those at risk of exclusion from school or society, those already excluded from mainstream education and young people who are NEET (not in education, employment or training) or who are likely to be NEET on leaving school. 

Youth Options was awarded grant funding totalling £41,830 over three years as part of the Strategic Grants intended to enable organisations to address changing or emergent strategic issues. Youth Options Fundraising & Communications Manager, Carly Redwood, said: “We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with HIWCF and the Including Communities Fund. This funding will support us to grow and develop a more sustainable organisation, from our fundraising and marketing to recruiting new Youth Support Workers.  Best of all, it will help us to make an impact in the community, further supporting children and young people across the county.” 

Kylie is a Care Leaver accessing Youth Options Step Forward programme which offers advice and support for young people to live happy, independent lives after leaving Care. Over the pandemic Care Leavers were disproportionally affected by Covid-19. Youth Options ran an appeal to address this need; they raised an additional £11,000 to support new Care Leavers as well as reengaging with those they had supported in the past. 

Kylie said: “Rachael [Youth Options support worker] contacted me again when the pandemic began. I was so grateful to be able to work with her again. Over this past 8 months or so, she has supported me emotionally, and with getting me some food shopping when needed. 

I worked with Rachael when I was younger, just 16 years old. I went on trips out which helped me escape from the reality of being in foster care away from my family. Rachael supported me emotionally, but she also helped me learn life skills like how to cook and budget. The skills I have learned have helped me so much over the years, both when I was in good homes but also when I was homeless. 

I am so thankful for all the support I have received from Youth Options. They offered me the opportunity to volunteer with young people, which gave me the experience I needed to get my dream job working with disadvantaged children and helping them to have a happier life. I was able to take the skills I had learned and make workshops of my own. 

If it wasn’t for Youth Options, with my background, I wouldn’t have been able to experience and learn half the things I have needed or wanted to in my life.”