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Report shows more young people in touch with Youth Service 24 September 2007

MORE young people are in touch with the Department of Education’s Youth and Community Division, its annual report reveals.

The number of recorded contacts was 83,955 in the year ended March 31, 2007, a slight increase on the previous year’s figure of 82,615.

The figure includes young people who are members of the Department’s youth and play clubs and those who participate in special projects, where membership is not necessarily logged. These include detached street work, drop-in sessions, the Soundcheck music project and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award open centres.

Membership of the Department’s 22 youth clubs, for young people in school years 7, 8 and 9, increased by 1.4 per cent to 1,201 during the year. Membership of the 18 play clubs, for children in school years 4, 5 and 6, fell by 1.3 per cent to 826 during the same period. There was a fall of 17 per cent in young people involved with special projects.

However, 31 per cent of eight to 10-year-olds were members of a play club during the year, 42 per cent of 11 to 13-year-olds belonged to a youth club and 18 per cent of 14 to 18-year-olds got involved with special projects. Among the 13-19 age group that rose to 23 per cent.

Youth and Community Adviser Mike Clague said at least 31 per cent of 13 to 19-year-olds were in contact with the youth service during the year. In England the target figure is 25 per cent.

Membership of the Department’s clubs and projects has risen from 2,141 a decade ago to 3,034, the fourth highest membership on record, in 2007.

Mr Clague said:

‘Despite what appears to be the perception that young people are not as interested in joining organised clubs and activities, the evidence we have is that lots of them do get involved and enjoy it.’

He said the breadth and geographic spread of clubs and projects in the Island meant the number of young people in contact with the Youth and Community Division was above the UK average.

Mr Clague said:

‘We are aware that there is a need for a purpose-built facility in the main shopping area of Douglas, where young people meet after school and at weekends, where a multi-disciplinary team could work to deliver activities, information and advice. Health professionals and the Careers Service are among those who could be on hand at fixed points during the week if such a facility was created. However, finding a suitable location will not be easy.’

Mr Clague also announced that youth officer Ken Callister has been promoted to the role of the Island’s first Senior Youth Officer.

Mr Callister will be in charge of setting quality standards, bringing in monitoring systems and supporting the development of activities as well as continuing the busy programme of staff development.

‘It is a well-deserved promotion for Ken, who has a lot of experience, having joined the Youth and Community Division in 1995,’ said Mr Clague.

Mr Clague said that following on from the series of youth forums run under the Join In, Speak Up campaign to give young people a greater voice, an all-Island forum was planned for next year.

‘Young people are actively managing nearly all our projects now and we are working closely with the Golden Jubilee Trust, via local authorities, to encourage more and more young people to engage with us,’ he said.

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