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Young People: Disadvantaged

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps the Government has taken to assist disadvantaged young people in the West Midlands since 1997. (194174)

Effective help for disadvantaged young people depend on a partnership approach. Young People are generally facing more than one issue that usually involves the expertise of more than one agency. The Government’s approach has been to encourage partnership working and sharing of information, while ensuring young people have a single point of contact. Since 1997 the creation of Youth Offending Teams, Drugs Action Teams, Connexions Partnerships, local Teenage Pregnancy Boards, and Children’s Trusts have changed the way disadvantaged groups are supported.

This has been supported by the creation of a new profession of personal advisers (PAs) to act as lead professionals in helping young people sort out their problems and get back on the path to success. PAs have been recruited and trained by Connexions Partnerships and there are now approximately 1,000 operating in the West Midlands.

The introduction of the Youth Opportunities Fund and Youth Capital Fund (YOF/YCF) during the last year has given young people the opportunity to participate in a range of positive activities. It has actively encouraged participation and engagement of disadvantaged young people and those who are hard to reach. The funds are worth £6.5 million in the West Midlands, with young people as the applicants, decision makers and beneficiaries. YOF/YCF will continue for the next three years.

The West Midlands Healthy Care Programme and Healthy Care Grant is supporting vulnerable young people in the West Midlands. This is mainly through targeted support through individual local authorities and support through key networks, including Education Protects, West Midlands Leaving Care Managers Network and Healthy Care Network.

Extended schools are a key mechanism through which Government provide support to children and young people and their families. The Government’s aim is that at least half of all primary schools and a third of all secondary schools should be providing access to the full core offer by the end of September 2008. In the West Midlands Coventry has already exceeded this figure, and is delivering the offer in over 70 per cent of schools in the area (compared to a national average of 45 per cent.).