An £8.7m scheme to try and abolish youth unemployment for 2,500 people is underway in the North East.
The news comes after Prime Minister David Cameron revealed plans to end Job Seekers’ Allowance for jobless young people after six months.
Newcastle graduate Katie McLaren criticised the PM, inviting him to the region to counter suggestions that unemployed young people like her aspire to claim benefits and need to be weaned off their ‘dependency’.
Katie, 21, is signed up to Youth Focus: North East which is a partner in the development of the Big Lottery’s Talent Match programme in the region, headed by The Wise Group.
It aims to help 2,500 people over five years who have been unemployed for 12 months or more to find work.
And, according to Neil Burke, regional development officer at Youth Focus: North East, the people they aim to help will have a vital role in how it is run.
He said: “The Big Lottery Fund stated that young people have to have 50% input in the design, delivery and decision making in the programme.
“It is a programme for young people, run by young people.”
It has been specifically designed to provide support to individuals who have not been in education, employment or training, or any other form of support for 12 months or more.
Target groups include young males, lone parents, young carers, young people from communities facing long-term unemployment, young people with mental health issues and young people with disabilities.
Through the programme Youth Focus: North East has developed its Young Person’s Steering Group. It has now been commissioned to deliver its Young Champions Programme.
This was an idea which came from the young people involved in the Talent Match programme.
Amongst its aims are to have Talent Match Champions who will have training to help them develop creative presentations and sessions aimed at young people, organisations and employers.
They can then go on to become Leaders in their community, recruiting and managing groups of local Champions.
Mr Burke added: “This is how we intend to ‘abolish’ youth unemployment, not by saying that after six months you’re history.
“Talent Match is trying to make a real difference to the needs of young people by getting young people involved. We’re not just adults saying to them you’re going to get this or that.”