Youth in Action ©

Mat Wright

Value £52 million
2007 to 2013

The programme supported young people’s international learning by enabling them to work together on joint projects, addressing issues of shared concern with counterparts from other countries. Through youth exchanges, local democracy projects, volunteering and other social action initiatives, young people gained new skills and experiences which brought direct benefits to the individuals and communities involved.  

As the UK’s national agency, the British Council delivered all aspects of the UK programme. We screened applications, allocated funding, supported partner organisations and provided professional development opportunities for those working in the youth sector. 

We used an innovative marketing and communications mix to maximise the reach of Youth in Action across the UK. Between 2007 and 2013, we supported over 44,000 participants, increasing applications by over 60 per cent in the last three years of the programme. By developing our social media platform, we were able not only to contact a wider range of applicants, but also to encourage peer learning and support among young people and youth organisations. 

Working with our partners, we designed and promoted high quality professional development opportunities for those working in the youth sector. By encouraging access to innovation and best practice, in Europe and internationally, these helped improve the benefits to young people from non-formal learning. 

We worked successfully with smaller, community-level groups, as well as established organisations, such as the Red Cross and YMCA. We used contacts with national and international organisations to press for improved recognition of the benefits of non-formal education in policy-making and standard-setting.    

‘I found it very rewarding to go over and help those who were from disadvantaged backgrounds. I feel it has changed me for the better and I hope it has made some astounding improvements for the people I spoke to.’

Alex Palmer, who volunteered for a Youth in Action-funded project to work with disadvantaged young people 

Youth in Action in numbers*

  • 44,000 participants
  • 1,900 projects
  • 726 Youth exchanges
  • 182 professional development events 


* These figures refer to current lifecyle 2007 - 2013