£4.7 million package of support for young people in Gloucestershire
At its meeting next week county council’s cabinet will be asked to approve plans to extend its current youth support service until March 2022.
The service, which is provided by Prospects Services, was due to be recommissioned in April 2021. If approved, extending the existing arrangement by one year will mean that youth support is not disrupted, providing much needed stability for young people during this uncertain time.
There are many challenges facing young people as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession. The youth support service has been working hard to support the county’s young people in areas such as youth justice, youth work, health and mental health, homelessness, education, training and employment.
Prospects Services’ management of youth support in Gloucestershire has helped to:
- Reduce the number of 16-18s who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) – so that Gloucestershire has the best performance in the South West.
- Reduce the number of young people aged 10-17 entering the youth justice system – so that Gloucestershire’s rate is the second best in England.
- Win a national award in 2019 from the Howard League for the Children First project that keeps young people out of the criminal justice system.
- Reduce teenage pregnancy to an historic low.
- Deliver wrap-around services for care leavers, with personal advice on education, training and employment, housing, and preparation for adult independence and success.
- Make this county the most successful Duke of Edinburgh Award operator in England, enabling those with additional needs and disabilities to participate in and achieve awards.
Cllr Richard Boyles, cabinet member for Children's Safeguarding and Early Years at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “This is a challenging time for young people and renewed investment in the current support service will help us to offer them stability.
“Continuing this wide ranging support can positively impact many different issues. From improving mental health at a time when we know many are experiencing loneliness and anxiety, to increasing their education and job prospects, and keeping young people safe from all forms of exploitation.”
To further support children and young people in the county, the council is currently developing a new youth strategy together with youth professionals, and young people who said they wanted more places they could go to where they feel safe, such as youth centres supported by youth workers.
The strategy includes a commitment to youth work training and hosting apprenticeships in youth work, as well as having at least one full-time JNC-qualified youth worker in each district, supported by a strong team of youth work staff.