Sheffield partnership secures £600k funding to support disadvantaged young people

A city-wide partnership led by Sheffield Hallam University has secured more than £600k government funding to support young people adversely affected by the pandemic through education and employability initiatives.

The £622k funding, secured through the UK Government’s UK Community Renewal Fund, will enable three existing projects to be combined and delivered in schools and colleges where young people are most at risk of being not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The Levelling Up Futures in Sheffield bid is a partnership between Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Sheffield Business Together. The South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority will be responsible for the overall programme management.

The programme will bring together public, voluntary and private sector organisations to deliver a range of support and activities for young people aged 11 to 18-years-old in communities that have been hit hardest during the pandemic.

The projects that will be brought together and jointly delivered through the funding are:

  • Sheffield Hallam University’s GROW mentoring programme which pairs recent graduates with a pupil in Y10-13 to offer one-to-one peer support and guidance to encourage young people to focus on their education and future.
  • The Big Community Challenge which aims to ignite social and entrepreneurial spirit through a city-wide social action activity. Pupils in Y7-9 are loaned £25 start-up funding to develop their ideas for improvements to, or awareness of, issues which are important to them or their communities. They will be supported by university students, charities, businesses and more to develop and action their ideas.
  • Social Mobility in Education which brokers employer encounters, with young people from Y7-13 from disadvantaged backgrounds at risk of not achieving their full potential, to provide inspiration, challenge limiting assumptions and raise attainment and aspiration. The programme was created by Sheffield Business Together.

This support will be offered as a package to 15 schools and two colleges in communities of low social mobility to improve aspirations, attainment and employability. It will be tailored to each school’s needs and circumstances.

Professor Conor Moss, Group Director for Business Engagement, Skills and Employability at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Covid-19 has disproportionately affected the learning and life chances of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“This innovative partnership will enable us to offer tailored support to those most likely to have been hit hardest by the pandemic and ensure they have the same opportunities and life chances as their peers.

“Ensuring young people have access the high-quality education and essential life skills and experiences to enable them to realise their full potential, is a key commitment in Sheffield Hallam’s Civic University Agreement.  

“This funding will allow us to deliver on that promise alongside key private and public sector partners in the region.”

Louisa Harrison-Walker, Co-Chair Sheffield Business Together and Executive Director, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce: “We are delighted to be part of this historic partnership. We strongly believe that a young person’s background shouldn’t determine their future and Employers have a vital role to play in raising the aspiration, attainment, and work readiness of our young people.  Sheffield Business Together is partnering with Sheffield Chamber of Commerce to scale their Social Mobility Programme.

“We will be asking employers across the city to come together to make a lasting difference to the life chances of young people in the city’s most deprived. Research shows that four or more employer encounters mean young people are 86% less likely to become NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training).”

Councillor Jayne Dunn, Executive Member for Education, Children and Families, said: “I’m delighted that this local partnership has been awarded the funding to carry out these important initiatives that will provide much needed education and employment opportunities for children and young people most disadvantaged by Covid-19.  

“Sheffield was not considered a priority area for this investment so the fact we were able to secure the funding speaks to the strength and potential of the programme. It will go a great way to levelling the playing field and ensure that our city’s children have the same chances to fulfil their potential irrespective of their background or circumstances.

“I hope our children and young people enjoy taking part in these exciting projects that will help them to forge a bright future.”