Taking Action to Support Winchester’s Young Unemployed

Press Release: 12/06/2012

As the recession drags on, there is increasing concern across the country about the plight of young people. Despite Government commitment to providing routes into training and employment, the country’s ‘NEETs’ face a barrage of obstacles at a time when their self esteem is likely to be at a low ebb and the economy is against them.

So with a view to providing practical and cost-effective help for the 16 – 24 year olds living in the Winchester District, a special conference is taking place on Wednesday 20 June at Winchester Guildhall. Organised by Winchester City Council with the support of Winchester Local Children’s Partnership, the conference is open to any individual or organisation with an interest in the wellbeing of young people.

The conference follows the completion of a mapping exercise commissioned by the City Council, which aimed to assess the scale of the problem in the Winchester District; to identify particular barriers locally, and to establish what support exists to help young people in this era of reduced public spending.

The mapping was carried out by consultants Jane Owens and Marilyn Hockley, supported by a young intern from Community Action Hampshire who has since drawn on the experience she gained to find a permanent job with UK Youth. Jane said:

Whilst feedback on local youth support agencies was clearly positive, most of the young people were not aware of all of the opportunities available to them as, indeed was the case with some of the agencies themselves. Young people felt that a lack of post-16 work experience was hindering their ability to find employment, and many of the agencies cited transport costs as an additional barrier.

Jane and Marilyn will be sharing the findings of their work against a national and local backdrop set by Hampshire County Council’s Phillip Walker, County Manager for Post 14 Learning. Delegates will also hear the real life stories of a group of young people being supported by training provider PETA in Winchester. (PETA offer a range of flexible learning programmes aimed at helping young adults develop necessary skills and attitudes for the workplace.) Finally, they will participate in an action planning session during which they can start work on implementing the recommendations of the mapping study.

Cllr Robert Humby, the Council’s Deputy Leader and new Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning & Economic Development, commented:

The Winchester District may be faring better in the recession than many other places. Unemployment rates here are lower, and the number of long term ‘NEETs’ small compared with national averages. But I feel strongly that this should mean we can work together to provide effective support to each and every one of our unemployed young people, helping through their personal challenges in a way which simply wouldn’t be possible elsewhere. I am confident that this conference will lead, over time, to a brighter future for the young people of the Winchester District.

For an agenda and booking form, contact Winchester City Council’s Flis Pitman on 01962 848 303 or email fpitman@winchester.gov.uk  Full copies of the report will be downloadable from the City Council’s website after the event.