It’s the time of year when everyone is talking about budgets!  Whether it’s the government, Business and Charity leaders or households up and down the country we are all concerned about money.  A recent poll by Charity Research showed that nearly nine in 10 charities (86%) are worried about the impact that rising living costs are having on people who rely on their services, with a third concerned about their own organisation’s survival

Last week the Chancellor announced a host of measures that he hopes will get people back to work and the economy moving again.  I was interested that he declared there will be a £100m support package to support charities although I worry that the need is far greater than what has been promised.

This financial year at the Youth Zone it has been impossible to balance our books!  By the end of the current financial year we will have spent nearly £100,000 on our energy bills.  That’s more than double what we were originally planning for!

We believe that a hard days work deserves a fair days pay and have made the decision to commit to being a Real Living Wage Employer.  This means that we have spent more than ever before on our staff costs during this financial year.  However, when times are tough it is important to look after employees who are ultimately members of our community.

We’ve also been providing free hot meals for all young people over the last few months to ensure that young people who visit the Youth Zone do not go hungry.  It makes me sad to think that it’s necessary for us to provide this service to young people but it’s clear that this support is now an essential part of our wider offer.  Gilbert, one of our Senior Members, said “I really appreciated the food, sometimes I don’t have the money so I couldn’t even afford the £1 hot meal on sessions, after a basketball match, I would just watch my friends eat but this time round I could eat with my friends.”

All these costs add up but we are lucky to have an incredible group of funders that support our work. I’m optimistic that with the continued support of our existing funders and a few new ones we can just about balance the books.  Young people need us more than ever so we can’t afford not to!