UK Youth and Starbucks

The coffee retailer's staff can volunteer to help youth projects

UK Youth and Starbucks
UK Youth and Starbucks

Central government funding for the charity UK Youth is due to end in two years' time, and its 44 member associations, which run youth clubs and support their activities, are frequently on the receiving end of local authority spending cuts.

So last year, UK Youth made a conscious decision to meet potential corporate partners in the hope that it could plug the funding drain.

"A lot of it was word of mouth and going to conferences and talking about the work we do," says the chief executive, Charlotte Hill. "There was a big push to meet new partners."

The result is a plethora of corporate partnerships, including a financial awareness programme with Barclays, a project to twin youth clubs with B&Q stores and a road safety programme with the package delivery firm UPS. Its latest partnership is with the coffee shop chain Starbucks.

In nine cities across the UK, and in Dublin, young people are being asked to come up with ideas to improve their local areas, with funding from Starbucks of £10,000 a city.

"It's not prescriptive at all," says Hill. In a pilot project in Dublin, the money was spent on building a pigeon loft.

UK Youth provides workshops to develop the ideas, while the programme's primary attraction to Starbucks is that the company allows its employees to volunteer on the projects.

Hill believes the UK Youth programmes can supply young people with the attributes that businesses want, such as resilience, mental toughness and the ability to negotiate.

"If you don't invest in programmes we run, then you are going to find that the young people employed by you aren't going to have those skills," she says.

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