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#lookback2015 - Youth work across the country

20 January 2016

2015 was a year of celebration for young people working with Prospects.

In March the achievements of young people helped by Prospects through the devolved Youth Contract in Wakefield were celebrated. The devolved Youth Contract offered young people aged 16 and 17 who were not in employment, education or training, mentoring support and extra help to progress into their chosen career.

The programme offered a personal touch and secured high levels of success for the programme, but more importantly for the young people themselves. During the three years it ran it helped 668 young people from across Wakefield, Castleford, Pontefract and Hemsley. Nine out of 10 of those who took part progressed into education, work or training.

Heather McKeith, one young person helped, is a young carer who lacked confidence and had no plans for her future. She joined the programme and has grown in confidence turning her life around making her family very proud. Heather is now in her second year at college and is on her way to university.

In Gloucestershire a group of young women supported by Prospects won an award for an advertising campaign they created to raise awareness of and tackle attitudes about domestic abuse. The young women won the Community Award at the Cheltenham Borough Homes Community Heroes awards for a campaign they created following a 12 week course equipping them with information and confidence to keep themselves safe.

The course covered a range of issues, including peer pressure, relationships, sexual health and staying safe online. A local police sergeant, who was previously a make-up artist on BBC drama ‘Casualty’, helped to create startling images for use on the posters. While applying the make-up to each young woman, the sergeant explained how the victim would have received each injury. This was very emotional for the young women to hear, but very powerful.

In July graduate care leavers in Calderdale celebrated at a special graduation ceremony hosted by the Mayor, Councillor Lisa Lambert. The graduates are among the 154 young people looked after when they leave care by the Calderdale Leaving Care Service. The Service is a partnership between Calderdale Council and Prospects supporting care leavers aged 16 to 25 make the transition from care into independent adulthood.

Young people leaving care are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Nationally only 6% of care leavers attend university, compared to 49% of young people living at home. In Calderdale 19 care leavers are in higher education, more than 12%. Leah* one graduate recognised at the event was only 4 years old when, along with her two older brothers, she was taken into care. Following her degree she is considering a career in social work, with the intention of making a difference to others. Leah feels this is because of her own experiences and how “Calderdale did not let me slip through the net; instead they helped me to thrive.”

In the summer young people in South Gloucestershire raised more than £7,000 for local charities when 170 young citizens gave up some of their summer holidays to improve their local communities as part of the National Citizen Service delivered by Prospects. The four week programme involves a week away at an outdoor centre; one week developing new skills and team building and 60 hours over two weeks delivering a social project in South Gloucestershire.

Working in teams, the young people selected a local community group or charity, approached them and started fundraising. It wasn’t just the money that made a difference, the young people involved were able to make a positive difference and leave a lasting legacy in their communities, as well as gain new skills themselves. The community groups and charities supported reflected the causes closest to the hearts of young people in South Gloucestershire, including homelessness, environmental and welfare charities, special needs schools, elderly day care, young people in care and their local community.

In September Prospects hosted an event celebrating the success of the Youth Contract in London. The event provided an opportunity to discuss, share and recognise the successes of the Youth Contract, acknowledge the best working practices developed and take forward learning for future contracts, to benefit young people across London.

Nearly 5,000 young people from across the 32 London boroughs have taken part in the Youth Contract, with 77% reaching a successful education, employment or learning outcome and 56% have sustained that outcome for six months.

In November figures were released which showed more school leavers in Bradford are in jobs, training or learning in 2015 than in 2014. The figures, from Bradford Council, show record highs for young people in learning and an increase in the number of young people doing apprenticeships, with the not in employment, education or training (NEET) rate for last year’s school leavers down from its low of 2% to only 1.6% (the national rate is 3.4% for 16-17 year olds, Jul-Sep 2015).

Bradford Council and Prospects work together in partnership with schools and training providers making sure young people understand the options available to help them select their career pathway. Support is provided in school, at college and through Connexions Bradford offices in Keighley and Bradford.

Prospects provides youth services across the country, delivering bespoke solutions including entire youth service contracts, careers, information, advice and guidance, targeted NEET support as well as short term individual contracts for schools, councils and stakeholders.

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