Children and young people in West Somerset are being granted extra help to get involved in extra-curricular activities.
Individuals and groups can apply for grants in an initiative which is part of the Government-funded and Somerset County Council-backed West Somerset Opportunity Area (WSOA).
Sport, performance classes, music, gym membership or a visit to the skate park are all now within the reach of 9-14 year-olds in the area after £170,000 was provided by Department of Education as part the Essential Life Skills programme.
The funding is for extra-curricular activities for children and young people that will help to improve their confidence and good mental health.
Young people can apply for a £350 grant to cover the cost of their chosen weekly activity for a year, or groups can apply for grants of up to £5,000 to cover either new activities or expanding existing ones.
This could be a local school which seeks to provide an extra-curricular activity such as drama or it might be a voluntary organisation seeking to start a sports activity.
Councillor Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Somerset County Council, said: “Evidence shows that these sorts of activities boost young people’s social skills and emotional wellbeing, and this in turn helps them develop the skills to achieve their potential.
“This is a great opportunity and I hope groups and individuals across the area will seize it with both hands.”
West Somerset is one of 12 Opportunity Areas chosen in recognition of the challenges young people face in education and employment. These have been highlighted by the Social Mobility Index which looks at the chances of children from different backgrounds doing well at school and getting a good job.
Projects are being developed by the West Somerset Opportunity Area Partnership Board, chaired by Dr Fiona McMillan OBE. Its membership includes representatives from Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council, local schools and employers.
Dr McMillan said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young people in West Somerset who currently do not benefit from taking part in organised activities outside of school.
“They will have the opportunity to take part in activities that might be new to them or which they have previously been unable to access, which in turn will bolster their confidence and equip them with essential life skills.”
The individual grants can be applied for with the backing of a responsible adult such as a teacher or youth worker throughout 2018 to March 2019, whilst funding for groups will be made available on a quarterly basis throughout the year.
For more information on the grants and funding deadlines and to download the forms go to http://www.somersetyouth.co.uk.