YHA picked to run £11.5m summer activity project

John Plummer

A charity has been chosen ahead of commercial sector rivals to manage an £11.5m lottery-funded youth scheme.

The Youth Hostels Association will receive £1m to manage the Get Real summer activities programme, which aims to involve 21,000 11 to 17-year-olds in activity breaks over the next two years.

The association is recruiting a six-strong project team and 200 paid staff to run the initiative over the summer holidays. It was chosen ahead of companies such as children's activity holiday provider PGL, which was one of six scheme providers last year.

"We are delighted not just for ourselves but also for the not-for-profit sector," said Tim Diggle, head of fundraising at the association. "There is a perception that the not-for-profit sector is a bit woolly and can't deliver commercially. I hope we will lay that to rest."

He said the scheme fitted with the charity's remit of helping young people enjoy the great outdoors. Last year, 670,000 young people took part in activity breaks organised by the association, whose income is £35m.

"It's a big project, but we know we can deliver because of the size of the organisation," said Diggle.

Six organisations jointly managed the Get Real pilot programmes in 2003 and 2004. A fund spokesman said: "In 2004, the Big Lottery Fund took the decision to appoint a single lead organisation to manage the national roll-out."

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