Wednesday 1 January 2014

The University of Northampton is pleased to announce that it has been commissioned by the Army Cadet Force Association (ACFA) to help gain new funding for a major social impact scheme.

The ACFA Outreach programme has been running for around 20 years and is aimed at 12 to 15-year olds that have become disengaged with school and are often in trouble with the police. Youngsters are referred to the scheme by education authorities, schools and the police. They then have the opportunity to take part in a series of indoor and outdoor activities run by ACFA volunteers and the Army. The Outreach programme provides opportunities to do new and challenging activities, in new environments and the participants get a real sense of achievement, positive feedback, and are able to gain three national qualifications.

Until this year, the Outreach programme has been funded by the Army. However, due to cuts to the defence budget funding has been withdrawn. Because of Northampton’s national reputation in the social enterprise sector, the Social Enterprise Research Group (SERG) was commissioned by the ACFA to identify the social value of the Outreach programme. Professor Simon Denny attended the Cabinet Office with the ACFA boss to present the report and making a case for the Outreach programme to be funded by the social investment sector.

Professor Denny commented: “The research that the SERG team carried out demonstrated that the Outreach programme delivers exceptional value for money. Just one example shows this: the cost of somebody becoming a persistent truant is calculated as £44,000 over a five year period. Over 85% of youngsters that were truanting but then went through the Outreach programme started going back to school on a regular basis. Outreach has worked with over 12,000 participants and it costs just £445 per head to deliver the programme! It is clear that Outreach has saved the taxpayer a fortune.”

“The Cabinet Office team was very impressed by the overwhelming force of the ACFA/Northampton’s case for the Outreach programme. The ACFA got the green light to seek funding through a social impact bond. The great news is that the SERG has been engaged again by the ACFA, this time to work with them over the next 12 months to develop the new measures and metrics that will be required by the social investment sector. It is a fascinating job to get, and a great chance to contribute to a very important social impact initiative.”

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