Yes to YIF!

Great news for young people in Hastings today as Hastings Commons secures a large Youth Investment Fund grant

Funded by the UK Government, the Youth Investment Fund (YIF) is a commitment to young people to transform and ‘level up’ the out-of-school youth sector. The funding will support and enable youth work and facilities that can transform health, wellbeing, skills, and opportunities for young people. It is a ground-breaking opportunity to prioritise the needs of young people, to develop the life-changing environments they need and to create a more equal society for future generations.  

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Social Investment Business have announced that Hastings Commons is one of the 46 projects across England that have been awarded a grant to transform and level up opportunities for young people in the first two grant rounds of a Youth Investment Fund of over £300 million. Hastings Commons is to receive £8.6 million in funding from the Youth Investment Fund (YIF).

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “Every young person should be given the best possible start in life and we are investing more than £500 million to transform youth services across the country. Today we are announcing the first major beneficiaries of a £300 million pot to give thousands more youngsters access to vital services and new opportunities to support and boost their mental and physical wellbeing.”

Nick Temple, CEO for Social Investment Business, said: “Every young person deserves access to high quality activities and facilities, providing the opportunities to help them thrive. The Youth Investment Fund is helping make that vision a reality, supporting organisations and projects in the areas of England that need it most.

“It’s been amazing to see the wide range of projects applying to the Fund, and especially how young people have played a meaningful role in shaping those plans. There is a real appetite to develop inclusive, accessible and sustainable facilities that will be there for future generations – and that is reflected in the first set of grants announced today.”  

“We are hugely excited as work gets underway in places across the country – work that will help transform opportunities for thousands of young people.”  

Photo by Bryan Rybolt 2016

Whole Community Approach

Already rooted in the local community, Hastings Commons will be taking a ‘whole-community’ approach to developing exciting spaces for, with and by local young people (aged 11–18).  Alongside new spaces and facilities, there will be many opportunities for young people to become involved in this unique regeneration approach through taking part in a wide range of ‘experiences’ (such as hospitality and events, construction, caretaking, administration), receiving mentoring from existing tenants, and having their say in shaping the redevelopment of the Observer Building.

The approach will draw on young people’s own perspectives, while developing their experience and knowledge through practical action to create and manage long-term community assets.

Dr Jess Steele, CEO of Hastings Commons, says: “Teenagers are the future and their involvement will help make sure the Commons lasts, while providing opportunities for them to thrive in Hastings. It’s in the nature of our holistic approach that there will be ‘intergenerational mingling’ – it won’t always be easy but the Commons is a way to find new and better ways to include everyone.”

The money will be used to support the development of several key buildings and spaces within the Hastings Commons, including:

-a full renovation of Eagle House (27-29 Cambridge Road) to create a range of spaces that benefit young people, including a Universal youth club and a youth work hub in partnership with Xtrax Hastings

-redeveloping key spaces within the Observer Building to be enjoyed by all, with young people’s influence and ongoing involvement – including the long-awaited OB Roof and the Vaults

-offering a wide range of opportunities for young people including work placements supported by Hastings Commons staff, tenants and partners.

Photo of The Common Room by Jonny Thompson

The project will be delivered by Hastings Commons, in partnership with local young people’s service Xtrax (Hastings & Rother) and other local partners. The Observer Building, and other spaces, have been generously funded by a range of funders.

The Youth Investment Fund forms part of the Government’s ‘National Youth Guarantee’ to ensure every young person across England will have access to regular out of school activities, adventures away from home and opportunities to volunteer. The Youth Investment Fund, of over £300 million, is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and delivered by Social Investment Business in partnership with National Youth Agency, Resonance, and the Key Fund.  

The Youth Investment Fund has been developed to create, expand, and improve local youth facilities and their services in the out of school youth sector, to drive positive outcomes for young people, including improved mental and physical wellbeing, and skills for life and work. 

Over the next three years the Youth Investment Fund will fund the building or renovation of 300 youth services and will increase the number of regular positive activities undertaken by young people in the targeted areas by 45,000 per year, by 2026/27. 

Social Investment Business is welcoming expressions of interest for Youth Investment Fund projects at any scale or stage of development from organisations for new/renewed facilities that will deliver positive outcomes for young people in selected eligible areas in England.  Eligible youth service projects can apply now, with applications are open until the final grant committee in March 2024.   

Visit  for more information.