More than 1 in 4 young people in the UK now live in poverty and the cost of-living crisis is pushing that number higher and higher. That can mean them having a cold home, going hungry and going without essentials. For many families it’s no longer a choice between heating and eating, they can’t afford either. All this limits young people’s opportunities by negatively impacting both their physical and mental health.

We provide a warm, safe environment where young people pay £5 per year, 50p per session and only £1 for a hot nutritious meal. We’ve never allowed cost to be a barrier to entry and have always provided free meals and entry to those who need it, but as Ilona Ramm, our Junior Session Manager says:

“The issue with the cost-of-living crisis is financial situations are changing on a weekly basis and whilst we’ve always known who we needed to be offering extra support too, in recent months this number has just kept climbing and we also know there are some families just not admitting they are struggling.”

Thanks to funding from St James Place, Burberry and Eric Wright, we were able to widen their offer and publicly promote that for the Winter months, both food and entry would be free for all young people. Ilona adds:

“This funding has attracted more children and families through our door (we’ve seen a 150% increase on our family day sessions) and allowed us to monitor who is most in need of further support going forwards.”

“You are some nice and lovely people. We love Inspire and when I turn 8 on July 19th, I am going to join.”

When asking young people what it meant to them and how they have benefitted, the response has been overwhelming:

“It’s meant I can come more often and see people”

“It’s helped when I’ve been starving and had no money”

In addition to the offer at the Youth Zone itself, Inspire has also been able to allocate some of this funding towards its detached programme where they head out to some of the borough’s hardest to reach communities. Equipped with their Scran Van, they have been able to ensure that other young people who wouldn’t, for whatever reason, be able to access the Youth Zone, also had access to hot nutritious meals. 

Ryan Powell, Head of Operations, adds:

”The Scran-Van is multi-use, it allows us to ensure more young people have access to a hot meal, but it also doubles up as an incredibly strong Youth Work tool. It works as a conversation started to many young people who wouldn’t normally want to engage in any kind of ‘service’, allowing us to start developing relationships and enabling us to widen our reach. The strength of this funding really has been immense. It has allowed us to work with and support more young people, more families, and further embed ourselves in the local community.”