The Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Small Grants Programme funded 10 experienced organisations across the region to deliver targeted, expert provision for disadvantaged young people not in work and not accessing mainstream employment support. The programme was developed as part of the wider Youth Employment Partnerships.

Three Youth Employment Partnerships were developed to bring together the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA), the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Council, Northumberland County Council and providers of employment and skills support from across the region. The partnerships were operational until June 2022 and worked to coordinate and maximise existing capacity, identify and fill gaps in provision, and engage businesses in youth employment programmes which moved young people towards work.  The Partnerships were funded through the DWP Flexible Support Fund and led by the three local authorities. The  progress made has carried on into our Employment Partnerships, which provide support to residents of all ages across North of Tyne.

Mayor Jamie Driscoll speaking to a group of people at YEP Awards


The VCSE Small Grants Programme, funded by NTCA and managed by Rocket Science, was designed to support local VCSE led, community-based activity which engages and supports young people, aged 16 to 24, into mainstream services and existing provision or by providing added value community-based support. The Grants Programme was developed because of insights emerging from the Youth Employment Partnerships and has supported the development of their work, as well as producing valuable additional capacity within the VCSE sector.

The VCSE Small Grants Programme ended on 30 September 2023.  Organisations and activities funded were:

The Angelou Centre logoThe Angelou Centre

This project brings minority ethnic young women closer to the labour market and increases their economic resilience through one to one and group support sessions, utilising goal setting support and individual learning plans.

Berwick Youth Project logo   Berwick Youth Project   

The Berwick Youth Project brings employers closer to those who can support learning and employment (e.g. through apprenticeships). The wrap-around support gives reassurance to employers that there is additional support in place to deal with issues outside of their normal remit, when working with young people who face barriers to sustaining employment.

cygnus support logoCygnus Support Ltd

Young people around the Wansbeck area are supported by a mentor to develop an individually tailored action plan and package of support, to support them to move closer to mainstream employability provision.

justiceprince logo Justice Prince CIC

Participants receive employment support which includes CV development, Individual Learning Plans, and support to register on job sites and apply for jobs. Some participants are also involved in completing a research project, contributing to a report on challenges disadvantaged young people face when seeking employment.

Headliners logo   Headliners (UK)   

This project targets care-experienced young people, teaching them digital and media skills and content creation in addition to CV building, job searching, budgeting and interview skills. Participants produce a creative portfolio to gain their Level 1 OCN London certification.

Hexham Youth Initiative logoHexham Youth Initiative

Young people around the Hexham area receive confidence building sessions, short courses, CV building and one to one support to identify and apply for opportunities. This project works with community partners to offer work experience and volunteering opportunities to participants.

YMCA logo   Newcastle Upon Tyne YMCA    

This project provides community-based workshops and opportunities to engage marginalised young people in activities covering a number of areas relating to the creative industries – for example taster sessions in film, digital media, creative writing, social media, marketing and art, so they are able to build skills allied to their desired industry.

NE Youth logo   NE Youth    

This project offers a residential aspect to promote team working and leadership skills, deliver life and employability skills sessions and offer young people volunteering or mentoring opportunities to support them into work. This includes a team building day in an outdoors environment, budgeting and wellbeing skills, first aid qualifications and volunteering opportunities.

Silx logo   People and Drugs (Silx Teen Bar Employability Project)  

This project provides detached and outreach street engagement work, as well as one-to-one support, linking young people into the Silx Employability Project – which offers advice and support to young people aged 16-25 who are not in employment, education, or training. 

sportworks logo Sport Works (North) CIC  

Courses are delivered in Walkergate to address work skills, improve fitness/health and focus on individual progression pathways, particularly for those who are among the most disadvantaged/disengaged from society, with special educational needs, disabilities and/or living in poor health.


Youth Employment Partnerships VCSE Small Grants Programme, Good News Story

The following good news story is from the Justice Prince CIC Barriers to Employment Project and outlines the journey of a particularly vulnerable young person, demonstrating the positive impact the projects within this programme have had.

The young person suffered social anxiety from an early age which led to home schooling which contributed to their isolation and sense of loneliness, of course, the pandemic was also a major factor. Once trust had been developed with the young person, they described how they had been bullied at school and never quite felt that they fitted in.  The combination of social anxiety, isolation and fear of others had created a complex range of issues which were acting as barriers to training and employment opportunities.

Through the work of Barriers to Employment project, the young person flourished, their confidence, motivation and self-belief increased. In a short period, the young person demonstrated a range of skills that were harnessed and led to the young person being appointed into a paid trainee role working on the development of Barriers to Employment. As the young person’s confidence increased, their physical appearance also changed, they started to wear nail varnish and pretty jewellery and become comfortable and open talking about their sexuality.

The young person said:

“I never thought in a million years I’d of done the things I’ve done in this job. It has challenged me, no end, but I’ve always felt supported. I won’t lie, I’ve had moments where I have actually suffered panic attacks, it’s been that hard-just speaking to someone on the phone can throw me. I feel proud to be involved, we have achieved a lot, I think, anyway.

“We have provided young people with opportunities, some of those people, I felt quite intimated by at first, but I realised they were like me, just with different issues to overcome. We all want to work and earn money; nobody wants to be on the dole stuck at home.

Gaining confidence has helped me be me. I’m still on my personal journey, I have not fully overcome my issues, but I know now that I will. I feel good, I feel supported, I’m happier in myself because I have friends, colleagues, and family.

Oh and I have gained a range of qualifications since getting involved with Barriers to Employment alongside gaining new skills – peer research, engagement work, planning events, talking to employers and the Mayor. I learnt data analysis, teamwork and how to provide employability support, writing CV’s and Learning Plans.

I feel ready to take my next steps – as they say in Justice Prince CIC ‘feel the pain and do it anyway – learn by doing, don’t be afraid to make a mistake, just learn from it’.  Thank you to everyone involved, my life is very different now.”

For more information read the Barriers to Work Report produced by this project.

If you have any queries or would like any further information about this project, please contact Ruth Gaul (