Mutual Ventures

Case studies

Youth services – Buckinghamshire County Council

ALF villages

In 2013, Buckinghamshire County Council commissioned Mutual Ventures to assess the desirability, feasibility and viability of various alternative delivery models for their outdoor education centres (villages).

The Council recognised that whilst the outdoor education villages offered a range of high quality, outcomes-focused opportunities, services were not regularly accessed by a wide range of children and young people from across the county and beyond.  The centres were under-utilised (with levels of demand highly seasonal) and did not realise a trading surplus. In addition, the infrastructure that supported delivery was in need of capital investment.

The findings from the feasibility study identified the establishment of a charitable trust as the best way forward for the service, with each outdoor education village being a “member” of the new organisation, and the Council assuming a similar role. The potential to welcome other centres as members in the future was reflected within the charity’s constitution.

Following the feasibility study, Mutual Ventures supported the member villages to develop a business plan that was accepted by the Council.  An implementation plan was then developed and applied, with Mutual Ventures providing oversight and support up to the point of “go-live”.

The Adventure Learning Foundation was established in November 2013, and offers the following services to member centres:

  • Outcome focused outdoor education opportunities
  • Training, education and apprenticeship programmes
  • Non-operational business support e.g. marketing, finance, HR, governance
  • Leadership, operational and branding support
  • Meeting and conferencing space, as well as full catering services

Mark Bandalli, Senior Consultant: “The Council was committed to securing a long term and financially sustainable resource that would benefit children and young people across the county.

The main challenge was ensuring the villages would remain outcomes focused whilst adopting a more professional marketing strategy to ensure they were engaging effectively with important stakeholders, such as schools, clubs and local voluntary and community sector agencies. The structure was also designed to ensure  the views, wishes and opinions of children and young people were taken into account.”

Laura Nankin, Head of Fair Access and Youth Provision, Buckinghamshire County Council: “Mutual Ventures provided us with high quality, professional support. The Mutual Ventures consultants are very knowledgeable and they offered us the flexibility we needed to successfully complete this project. Their support enabled us to see the project through to its completion within a very challenging timescale. The support was delivered with great patience, humour and tact.”