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May 07, 2009 19:01 ET

Independent Evaluation of v Is Good News for Youth Volunteering

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - May 8, 2009) - The results of v's first independent evaluation are published today - confirming that eighty-five percent of the investments made by the youth volunteering charity between May 2006 and September 2008 could not have taken place without v funding. The findings, delivered by independent consultancy WM Enterprise, demonstrate the significant added value of v's role in co-ordinating and commissioning youth volunteering programmes across England, and confirm that there is little deadweight(1) across v's early investments.

The report also shows that v has significantly enhanced the provision of volunteering opportunities for 16 - 25 year olds, with over 148,000 young people taking part in volunteering activities in the period covered by the evaluation. Since then, v has continued to invest in the sector and a total of 311,000 youth volunteering opportunities have been completed to date, with a total of 875,000 commissioned.

Headline findings of the independent evaluation

- v funding has enabled the creation of large numbers of volunteering opportunities for young people that would not otherwise have been created

- v has provided a broader set of opportunities for a wider audience. In many cases this has also led to the provision of high quality volunteering opportunities

- Opportunities have been filled by a relatively diverse group of young people, many of who had not volunteered previously or in many cases had not previously considered volunteering

- Opportunities have been created by established organisations and also by a wide range of new, small and community-based organisations that previously had limited capacity to accommodate young volunteers

- v-funded volunteering opportunities have helped young people to develop 'soft' skills such as confidence and self-esteem, raised aspirations, enhanced social skills and networks, communication and leadership skills, enabling young people to access new opportunities linked to education, training or employment.

- It is clear that v's investments have led to a range of social and community-focused benefits, directly (e.g. environmental improvements) and/or indirectly (e.g. health and environmental awareness, or diversionary activities for young people).

- There is very little deadweight within v's investments, with approximately 85% of funded organisations stating that their projects would not have taken place without v funding

Commenting on the findings, v's Chairman Rod Aldridge said:

"It's clear from this evaluation that there is much to celebrate and be proud of. v has worked energetically to turn Ian Russell's vision for a new national framework for youth action and engagement into reality. We have harnessed the commitment of government, business, the third sector and most importantly, young people themselves, helping to transform communities across England. v is committed to growing these opportunities further, learning from the past three years and looks forward to playing its role in delivering a national youth volunteering service in the years to come."

MP Kevin Brennan said:

"I welcome the findings from this first evaluation of v's work up to 2008. It clearly demonstrates the impact that v is making in providing a large and diverse range of young people with compelling opportunities to volunteer their time for the benefit of themselves and their communities."

"I've seen first hand how volunteering can give young people the skills and confidence that they need to fulfil their ambitions. v has created a step change in youth volunteering and I hope that all young people will have the chance to take these wonderful opportunities. I am very pleased that v has accepted many of the recommendations as a positive way forward and look forward to hearing about future successes."

The evaluation report is available at www.vinspired.com, and includes 13 key recommendations from the independent evaluators based on the findings of the evaluation. v has also published a separate response to these recommendations, outlining how the organisation will address and learn from the first formal evaluation of its activities.

ENDS

Interview opportunity

For more information or interview opportunities with Rod Aldridge, please contact David Slade or Pippa Bruce, Shine Communications on 020 7100 7100

david.slade@shinecom.com / Pippa.bruce@shinecom.com.

Case studies

Example case studies are included at the end of this press release.

Case Study examples from the independent evaluation

(a) v funding has had a significant strategic impact on the Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB). Previously, the proportion of young volunteers supported by CAB was limited, but now CAB offer provision and support that is more attractive and relevant to young people aged 16 - 25. Feedback has highlighted that without exception the young volunteers have enriched service provision in the CAB offices in which they have been based, and bureau that were not funded by v have now established their own youth volunteering projects.

(b) Volunteer x felt that his volunteering opportunity with Berkshire Scout Enterprises inspired him to train and look for work. Without the opportunity he thinks he would have gone back into petty crime, and may have ended up in more serious trouble. He feels that thanks to an increase in confidence he raised his aspirations and for the first time thought he could obtain, and hold down, a good job. He gained enough skills and good references to get an interview with an electricity company, and now works full-time as a street lighting operative.

(c) Naz Project London provides support for South Asian men from the LGBT community. One young volunteer described the way in which volunteering with the project gave him confidence when coming out to friends and family. He described his volunteering experience as "giving him strength to feel at peace with being gay and Asian." As a result of his volunteering experience, he has also gained employment.

(d) The ITV Fixers project is supported financially by ITV, the Nationwide Foundation, and delivered by The Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT). The project supports young people aged 16 - 25 to take action, through media campaigns, on any issue they feel strongly about with the only condition being that the subject area is of benefit to other people. It has been stated that the length of time ITV has committed to broadcasting Fixers films is almost unprecedented for a project of this nature and is therefore testament to the success and value of the ITV Fixers project.

Notes to Editors

About v

v is an independent charity launched in May 2006 as a result of the Russell Commission report, A National Framework for Youth Action and Engagement.

v aims to inspire a new generation of volunteers (aged 16-25) in England. We do this by funding voluntary organisations all over England to create inspiring, diverse opportunities and by helping to overcome barriers that stop people from taking action to improve lives, communities and the planet. Our aim is to create a culture where volunteering comes naturally - and where the benefits of volunteering are understood and celebrate.

See www.vinspired.com for more information on what we do and how we do it.

About the independent evaluation conducted by WM Enterprise

The evaluation was undertaken by WM Enterprise (WME), a social and economic consultancy, and presents the main findings and recommendations from an independent, objective study of the activities of v between May 2006 and December 2008. The evaluation comprised;

- Review and analysis of management and financial information

- In-depth interviews with key v staff and stakeholders

- Detailed case studies of 19 v funded projects, comprising site visits, interviews and focus groups with project managers, volunteers and community beneficiaries

- Telephone survey of young volunteers who participated in the vcashpoint initiative

The evaluation was guided by a highly successful Youth Evaluation Panel, in order to ensure that the youth-led ethos of v was replicated in the evaluation process.

v has recently appointed the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) to conduct a formative evaluation of v's activities from 2008 - 2011.

(1) Deadweight refers to the degree to which project activities would have occurred anyway through statutory and other funding, regardless of funding provided by v.

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