Project information

The IRIS Project

To support young people and youth sector organisations to understand and access the world of web technology in order to use it effectively to improve communication & combat social exclusion; connect networks & support co-operative working.

The possibilities are limitless, but are being missed.

April 2011 - March 2012

Charity information

Regional Youth Work Unit - North East

Regional Youth Work Unit - North East
  • Need


    There is radical change in the statutory and voluntary youth work sector. We all have to deliver more for less. We do not work as effectively as we could and are not using web and mobile technology to work collaboratively to improve the lives of our young people.

    Research shows that across the region people believe that use of social media will be beneficial, but no one organisation has the capacity or desire to act on this. We want to do this for ourselves, partners and young people.


    This project will explore, understand, communicate and support the development of the use of web and mobile technology across the youth sector. Working with partners, such as Newcastle University’s Social Inclusion through Digital Economy (SIDE) research project and experts developing Big Society approaches via social media surgeries we will build a credible source of info, expertise and coordination role. Antigone funding will create the capacity in our organisation to the benefit of others.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Knowledge - share current and emergent web and mobile technology and sector policy and practice


    » Deepen our understanding and use of current and emerging technology via a funded post, creating capacity to be used by the wider youth sector
    » Work collaboratively with Newcastle University Social Inclusion through Digital Economy project and University of Teesside Digital Institute
    » Improve our ability to obtain up to date information on evolving local and national youth sector policy
    » Build and share and evidence base of innovative effective practice from young people and professionals

    The project will be seen by young people and professionals as a credible source of information. Partners will benefit from a proactive approach to knowledge sharing.

    Aim 2

    Connect - develop new networks & communities of interest & champion use of web & mobile technology


    » Grow our relationship with social media experts & deliver regional surgeries to support a collaborative approach to the use of web & mobile technology
    » Champion and support the use of new technology to improve outcomes across our networks. Understand and articulate the challenges and opportunities
    » Put capacity into developing our networks to support coherent and informed connected communities enabling partners to work more effectively
    » Develop new networks and communities of practice to pilot the use of new web and mobile technology, working jointly to improve service delivery

    Young people and professionals will increase their effective use of web and mobile technology. Socially excluded young people will have better access to digital technology.

    Aim 3

    Learn - support young people and professionals to develop their use of technology.


    » Deliver seminars and surgeries with young people and professionals to start new thinking about using web and mobile technology more effectively
    » Provide support to people and organisations who want to use emerging technology to support their work. Signpost to advice and funding opportunities.
    » Collect and share good practice via a digital hub. Discuss challenges and opportunities to develop new ways of working in the Youth Sector
    » Improve our knowledge base by taking the opportunity to learn from leading thinkers in the field of new web and mobile technology.

    Young people, especially those socially excluded, and youth professionals will have new opportunities to take part in web and mobile technology learning and training

    Aim 4

    Improve - tackle social exclusion through digital inclusion


    » Work with young people and professionals to understand and overcome barriers which make accessibility to web and mobile technology difficult
    » Champion the needs of those excluded, work to achieve economies of scale, develop consortia funding bids, share low cost or no cost solutions
    » Use technology to support meaningful participation of young people in local decision making processes and involvement in social action
    » Bring communities and decision makers closer together to improve service development

    New networks and communities of practice, based on innovative and effective ways of communicating, will increase accessibility and give more young people a meaningful voice

    Aim 5

    Grow - build a sustainable resource which is available to all across the youth sector year on year


    » Develop a business plan for this work which would lever in funding to enable us to deliver a resource to the sector year on year
    » Via constant review, monitoring, sector feedback and expert evaluation develop the project into a model of best practice
    » Develop a strategy to enable effective sharing of knowledge and raise positive images of young people and the work of youth sector professionals
    » Cultivate an online community of young people and youth sector professionals

    This project will be developed into a strand of work which is sustainable year on year. Antigone funding will be the seed which enables our vision to flourish.

  • Impact


    Web and mobile technology offers huge opportunities to improve how we interact and achieve better outcomes for young people. These opportunities are being missed due to a lack of understanding, vision and capacity.
    Antigone funding would enable us to work with a wide range of partners in order to effect meaningful strategic and cultural change.
    Success would be that web and mobile apps become part of the everyday fabric of how we work and are acknowledged as making a positive difference.


    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. We have to know what we are doing to help others. Therefore we will work closely with digital partners at universities and social media experts.
    Lack of funds could hamper this work. We will access wider funding streams, work to achieve economies of scale and also adopt low cost social action/community based approaches.
    Reluctance to engage with digital technology is a risk. We believe that we can prove the value of our work and win hearts and minds


    We would anticipate providing regular written reports, presentations and press releases to donors. We would also invite donors to visit the project and to take part in social media surgeries. We would also be keen to meet with any donors who could offer advice on how we could improve our project

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £70,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £35,400 Salary Project lead post
      £4,440 meetings & faciliation 8 initial regional meetings + social media facilitators
      £6,000 IT costs mobile cameras, video streaming, virtual whiteboard, etc
      £11,660 Support costs Admin, travel for young people, host costs
      £5,000 Research costs Research into use of web and mobile technology by young people
      £7,500 Scoping costs Staff time to develop business plan, collate info, meet with potential partners - 65% already funded

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    University of Newcastle Business voucher £5,000 Guaranteed
    Government Office for the North East - Staff time £5,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    We are based in Gateshead, but the project would be delivered across the North East with the key statutory and 3rd sector officers and our developing North East Network of Young People.
    Fundamentally the project will not be restricted by geography, it will be driven via digital technology. The project will be located in the hearts and minds of the motivated professionals we work with and in the vision and enthusiasm of young people


    Youth work professionals will benefit by improving their understanding of technology to communicate with peers and young people in efficient, innovative and effective ways.
    Young People, especially those socially excluded, will be given the opportunity to work in partnership with professionals to develop this project. They will benefit from improved communication and quicker signposting of positive opportunities at a local and regional level via digital media

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Regional Youth Work Unit works across the North East to promote and support the development of youth work. We are a highly motivated, forward thinking, creative organisation. We have a network of over 1200 organisations and individuals working with young people in the region.

    Having seen the positive impact web and mobile technology has had on our organisation we are driven to share this across the region.

    We are passionate about improving the lives of our young people

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Leon Mexter - Member Of Staff

    As Chief Executive of the Regional Youth Work Unit he will ensure that this project works strategically with other organisations and delivers its aims

    Young People - Partners

    Ultimately the reason we are developing the project, they will benefit from our work. We will also use their expertise to develop our knowledge.

    John Popham - Partner

    One of a group of passionate social media professionals who will provide advice and feedback as we develop and improve our work