Mutual Ventures

Devon Youth services

Space* established as an independent Public Service Mutual with charitable status in June 2017 having been Devon Council’s in-house youth service. Establishing as an independent organisation enabled the service to make a fresh start and to do things differently, while also building on its current strengths and core business.

The charity is an ambitious and outcome focussed organisation that supports young people to realise their potential and make positive contributions to their communities. It delivers open access and targeted youth services, and alternative education provision to young people with a range of needs.

Space*’s 8 youth centres are vibrant community hubs that provide the foundation for delivery of youth services and play a pivotal role in maintaining and developing their partnership approach.

While part of Devon County Council, the youth service budget reduced from £3.8m in 2013/14 to £1.675 in April 2016.

These pressures necessitated the deletion of approximately 130 full and part time posts, resulting in a significant amount of turbulence and change across the service.

While the restructured service was able to deliver services, staff felt that an alternative delivery model would allow the service to innovate, access new sources of funding and establish meaningful relationships with a range of public and VCSE partners.

MV worked with Devon County Council to establish a new model by:

  • Exploring a range of delivery models- an options appraisal identified a Public Service Mutual as the optimum model, based on the desires of staff, young people, the council and a range of community partners;
  • Extensive business planning exercises- defining the new organisation’s vision, mission and values, and type of services that would be delivered. The business plan demonstrated the financial viability and sustainability of the proposal;
  • Developing a social impact and social value framework- this mapped the outcomes achieved by young people;
  • Testing identified legal form and governance of the mutual; and
  • Transition planning and implementation to ensure a smooth transfer of staff, assets, liabilities and delivery responsibilities to the new organisation.

Rather than just focusing on survival, the charity now has the platform to innovate, invest and grow, while at the same time developing new strategic relationships and meaningfully involving young people in setting its direction.

They intend to reduce their dependence on income from their core contract held with Devon County Council, diversifying income streams by developing new services, while also securing new contracts.

The charity is supported by an innovative and inclusive governance structure that enables employees, service users and key partners to feed into the Board and influence the strategic direction of the organisation.

Kev Henman, Chief Executive, DYS Space* “We were fortunate enough to partner with Mutual Ventures. We found every aspect of their service relevant, useful, thought provoking and appropriately challenging. We wouldn’t have succeeded without MV – of that I’m in no doubt.”