Friday, 16 December 2011


Hi everyone – this is my last Blog for 2011, and so it’s a bit more reflective, and longer than usual.

The final stage of the lengthy commissioning process for services to young people looks likely resulting in Surrey Youth Consortium being likely to win some, but not all, of the contracts available – see Cabinet report for 20 Dec. on our website.

Surrey CC is moving to a commissioning process for voluntary sector support service bodies like the district/borough Councils for Voluntary Services (CVS) and Surrey Community Action (SCA) with effect from April 2013, and reducing grants to them all in 2012/13. My colleagues are also experiencing the imminent ending of a variety of government grants and in consequence SCA has just given 3 months notice of the likelihood of redundancy to a large group of staff. Whilst unavoidable now, it is a great pity that this is happening. My colleagues are pinning hopes of some offset by the prospect of a successful Transforming Local Infrastructure bid to the Lottery (£600,000 sought). Restructuring, mergers and, I fear, redundancies will be in evidence regardless of the success of the bid, but it’s tough on those likely to be losing their jobs in March. Happily our own core grant for next year is being maintained, though we are experiencing cuts elsewhere.

A sub -group of Trustees met this week to consider the budget for next year, and whilst this will be a second year of deficit budget,  our reserves are strong enough at present to see us through 2012/13. I am grateful for the trust and flexibility being exercised by Trustees. Fundraising is crucial for next year as it is for every other organisation, and we are preparing bids; the pity is that whilst we have to prioritise this, we can’t be delivering to our members so easily.

However, we are progressing some things. Our “4X4” project links 4 member charities to 4 businesses, and we are now actively engaged with the Chamber of Commerce in “match- making” the first group at the end of January. On the governance front we are strengthening the Board of Trustees/ Directors and will shortly have an outstandingly able Board. We are bringing together (brokering) some key stakeholders interested in the redevelopment of a site in Epsom owned by Sanctuary Housing that will become a new build supported housing hostel for homeless young people.

My perception is that there are two worrying issues amongst young people in Surrey : youth homelessness, and anxiety/depression. I am joining the Board of CAMHS so hopefully can contribute to the debate on the latter issue.

My Chairman and I had a very good meeting with the Leader of the County Council last week who intimated that he would have an important announcement at Tuesday’s County Council meeting, and indeed he then announced a £750,000 community grants programme for infrastructure projects and a commitment to partnership with the sector. Good news!

I think 2012 will be a year in which to read up about chaos theory; I think some organisation structures will break up, and be re-formed in a different shape. Whilst the background of financial pressures will continue, I also think there will be more opportunities for those who hold their nerve to access new targeted programmes from Government (who cannot run with 3 mill people unemployed and expect to be re- elected in May 2015) and from social finance/ philanthropy. 

Surrey Youth Focus is clear about what it’s doing, and our place in the scheme of things (stay small, low cost, innovative, risk – taking, and high profile for our members’ sake).

And finally, my thanks to my small team of very big people – Kate Peters (Members Services), Karen Moore (social media) and Marie Silvester (Youth Development worker) – I think we all deliver way more at lower cost than could reasonably be expected from just 2.5 FTEs worth of staff, and we go into next year with confidence.

Happy Christmas, and an enterprising New Year!


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