Building confidence and connections in Southwark

Year one findings from the One Southwark programme 

Southwark has been described as a borough of ‘two halves’, with pockets of extreme need sitting alongside considerable wealth and opportunity. The One Southwark programme, launched in March 2022 as an alternative to other London Giving Programmes, seeks to address the effects of this disparity on young people in the borough. It does this by mobilising businesses, funders, community groups and residents to give their time, money, networks and influence to ‘level the playing field’ for underrepresented young people. The ambition is for young people to become active contributors to conversations with local stakeholders about how to bring about longer-term, sustainable change. 

IVAR has been working alongside the programme to understand the barriers young people face and what learning can be applied as the work evolves. What’s special about One Southwark is the person-centred and flexible design of the package young people access. It includes financial support (a £3,000 grant to spend as they chose to support their progression), mentoring, events and training, and access to an ‘Asset Network’ of local organisations and individuals offering things like work experience, advice, mentoring and coaching and skills development. The aim is to take a holistic approach to young people, their aims and the challenges they face.  

Over two years young people have been able to build their confidence and self-esteem, as well as personal, industry specific and soft skills. What young people particularly value is the spaces they get to work out what they want to do, develop their ideas and make informed decisions about the future. The grant has helped remove financial barriers, like paying for ADHD assessments, childcare, courses, counselling and costs of setting up new enterprises. 

One Southwark’s ambitions go beyond supporting 40 young people over 4 years. The challenge now is to use the learning about barriers that underrepresented young people face to promote wider change. As the programme turns its attention to recruiting cohort two, it is also developing a road map to influence local organisations – businesses, charities, funders, statutory agencies – and residents, to help remove barriers and strengthen opportunities for young people across Southwark.  

Read more about one young person’s journey:

If you’re an organisation in Southwark and want to find out more contact Will Cole  

For more information about the research contact or read our year one evaluation:

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