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Manchester County Council and Voluntary Youth Manchester partner up to deliver Ambition Quality

September 2016

One of our members Voluntary Youth Manchester (VYM) is working with their local authority Manchester City Council (MCC) to deliver Ambition Quality. MCC changed from being a direct deliverer of Youth Services in 2011, to a commissioner of voluntary sector youth and play provision across the city following the impact of austerity upon the local authority. We interviewed both organisations to understand how the partnership came about:

Can you tell us about your approach and the clubs and projects you are working with?

VYM: The approach we have adopted for this programme is one of mutual support (groups), either geographical or thematic. There are existing partnerships based in different parts of the city that are taking this forward with their members, and other sub-groupings. This works on the basis that everyone brings something, some strength, and while some organisations are greatly advanced in this work, most are just starting out – Ross Grant, Development Manager.

MCC: There are approximately 40 organisations covered by this programme within the broad remit of MCC's Youth & Play commissioning process. Among these we have a wide range of themes and professional approaches, including LGBT, specific BME communities, mental health, music, open access, detached & outreach, water-based outdoor ed, etc., approached via youth work, play work and sport driven methodologies – Patrick Barber, Youth Strategy Team.


Why do you think it is important to support organisations to achieve a quality standard?

MMC: MCC recognises the great impact these services have upon shaping young people’s lives and so it remains imperative that young people receive the highest quality of service standards from organisations that are commissioned by the local authority that represents best value for money – Patrick Barber, Youth Strategy Team.

VYM: For VYM demonstrating the quality of your systems, policies and procedures is crucial to organisations in setting them apart from those that can't. This improves the relationship between organisations and their users and with funders. This has become even more important for the latter where funding has dwindled so much that they need easy indicators of quality, which having a recognised externally verified QS can bring. - Ross Grant, Development Manager.


What do you hope to achieve with a quality standard?

MCC: The aim of working with our commissioned youth and play providers to achieve a quality standard is essentially to raise the bar, focusing on and ensuring greater positive outcomes for young people by organisations that will have effective governance, organisational and management mechanisms in place. This will also create an environment for those organisations to develop the necessary key partnerships and consortia to become increasingly more effective in being commissioning-ready and the drawing down of funding to continue to deliver services to young people within a very challenging political climate. – Patrick Barber, Youth Strategy Team.


Why Ambition Quality?

MCC: Ambition Quality is a clear, concise and user-friendly youth focused quality standard for organisations such as youth clubs to utilise and demonstrate their commitment to quality service delivery.” - Patrick Barber, Youth Strategy Team.

VYM: We researched multiple quality standards, but found none that met all 3 main criteria - youth focused; straightforward; and economical. Then we found AQ, which is definitely 1. and 3. and is as straightforward as any other we have found. There were other criteria that were factored in too, such as externally verified and understood VCS, and again we felt this scored highly. - Ross Grant, Development Manager.


How have you found the experience?

VYM: Ambition will allow our voluntary sector to remain competitive in a market where resources are finite. The guidance and principles of the standard are indeed impressive; this will allow organisations to have a firm base upon which to deliver quality services for young people that is recognisable across the sector in Manchester. The cost of the quality standard in relation to the associated outcomes also reflects a very good value for money approach. - Ross Grant, Development Manager.