New Cost of Living fund for youth groups: The UK Youth Fund

A new Cost of Living fund for youth groups opened for applications today. The UK Youth Fund in partnership with Pears Foundation

White and black text reads 'We can't afford to lose our Youth Services' on a blue background. Below, the Youth Scotland logo is in white on an orange background.

Leading youth work charity UK Youth and Pears Foundation have today launched a new £5m fund to support youth organisations through the cost of living crisis – benefiting thousands of young people across the country.

Youth organisations with an annual income of no more than £500,000 will be able to apply for the UK Youth Fund in partnership with Pears Foundation, with the application window opening on Thursday 2nd February 2023 at 10am.

The fund will offer 3-year unrestricted grants of approximately 10% of the current turnover of applicant organisations to reflect the current inflation rate and organisations will hear the outcome of their application within 4-6 weeks.

The fund has been launched as the UK faces the worst cost of living crisis since the 1950s, with young people facing a bleak future without additional support.

Almost half (47%) of young people are financially precarious[1], and a third (30%) feel they will never achieve their career aspirations[2]. One in five parents said they have struggled to provide sufficient food as a result of the crisis, and over a quarter (26%) said their child’s mental health has worsened due to the situation.[3]

A perfect storm of threats caused by the cost of living crisis is also putting the future of the youth sector at risk, further impacting a generation of young people.

Youth organisations are facing a higher demand for essential services as families face choosing between paying for food or heating their homes – at the same time, the youth sector workforce is shrinking as paid staff and volunteers move on in search of higher paid roles.

Similarly, youth organisations are seeing an increase in running costs thanks to issues such as larger energy, food and fuel bills, whilst income and fundraising have decreased because of inflation and fewer donations.

UK Youth and Pears Foundation are both deeply concerned about the impact the crisis is having on youth organisations and young people across the UK. The fund aims to ensure that as many vital youth services as possible are able to keep the lights on and support young people in their local community. If forced to shut down, these services may never return.

Full details of the UK Youth Fund in partnership with Pears Foundation, including application criteria and how to apply, can be found on UK Youth’s website from 10am on Thursday 2nd February here. Any further questions about the fund can be answered by the grants team at

Ndidi Okezie OBE, CEO of UK Youth, said:

”Youth organisations play an essential role in helping young people to find their place in society, to support their wellbeing and development, and to realise their full potential. However in recent years, the challenges posed by the pandemic and now the worst cost of living crisis since the 1950s, mean that many organisations are having to go even further – often with fewer staff, less funding and increased demand. Those pressures ultimately mean less support for young people at a time when they need it most.

“We are delighted that the Pears Foundation have donated £5m as we launch the UK Youth Fund for youth organisations that are struggling. We expect a huge number of applications and know the grants will make a vital difference to thousands of young people across the country.

“But we know the next generation needs even more support – so we hope other funders, the business community, government and even individual supporters who can afford to donate, will do whatever they can to increase youth work provision for as many young people as possible. To truly unlock youth work for all, increased investment is just one part of deeper systemic change – we need better collaboration between professionals that support young people, and more opportunities to share effective youth work practice.”

Sir Trevor Pears CMG, Executive Chair of Pears Foundation, said:

“At Pears Foundation, we believe in the power of communities.  For young people, who are facing so many challenges, the heart of that community often lies within the small, local youth clubs that provide them somewhere safe and enjoyable to go.  Many of these clubs are under threat, and we must act now if we are to ensure their survival.

We are delighted to be working in partnership with UK Youth to support their members, providing the unrestricted, multi-year funding that we know is so desperately needed if we want youth clubs to survive and to continue to support our young people.”

[1] The RSA (2022) Age of Insecurity: Young people’s economic security in an age of atomisation.

[2] City & Guilds (2022) Youth Misspent: Uncovering the harsh realities for Britain’s young people in today’s job market.

[3] Barnados (2022) At What Cost? The impact of the cost-of-living crisis on children and young people.