Community Links - Bridges Fund Management








Community Links

The ‘Links 4 Life’ programme finances support for disadvantaged 14-19 year olds in east London

Investment Strategy

Outcomes Contracts


Future Skills

Date of initial investment

March 2012

Bridges Executives

Andrew Levitt

Challenge: Nearly one million 16-24 year olds are now classified as ‘NEET’ – not in education, employment, or training. A number of underlying issues can lead to a young person becoming disengaged. This transition can be particularly challenging if the person is a young offender, have learning difficulties or disabilities, or be in or leaving care. A period of being ‘NEET’ can lead to negative long-term outcomes, including increased changes of subsequent unemployment and poorer health outcomes. The cost to society is also huge, amounting to a bill that could total £28bn over the next decade.

Investable Solution: The ‘Links 4 Life’ programme is a social impact bond which finances support for disadvantaged 14-19 year olds in east London. It is delivered by Community Links, an east London charity with 30 years’ experience running a wide range of community projects. Five specially trained ‘Link Workers’ offer tailored 1-1 mentoring for young people in areas such as drug mental health, family intervention, housing / homelessness, youth offending, educational welfare, and drugs / alcohol misuse. A range of complementary vocational training courses is also provided by Community Links.

If young people on the Links 4 Life programme improve their attendance and behaviour at school, achieve educational qualifications, and move on to further education or employment, then payments are made to the programme by the Department of Work and Pensions Innovation Fund – a £30m facility to finance outcomes payments for social impact bonds targeted at improving employment and educational outcomes for vulnerable young people.

Outcomes: The Links 4 Life programme will aim to deliver positive social impact in four distinct categories:

  • Direct beneficiary impact through delivery of the SIB. The contract will support a target of 700 young people to attain approximately 800 positive outcomes, which include improved behaviour, improved attendance and national qualifications, from 2012 to 2015
  • Direct societal impact through welfare payments savings to NEETs for the DWP, and subsequent benefits to society from reduced offending, and potential poor physical and mental health outcomes avoided
  • Systemic social policy impact through trialling 1-1 Link Worker mentoring as a method to reduce potential NEET outcomes for adolescents
  • Systemic market-building impact to encourage preventative, payments-by-results commissioning by government and local authorities that can lead to better outcomes for young people