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Youth survey helps to shape services 27 March 2008

THE results of a survey of young people carried out by the Department of Education’s Youth Service in January are now available and are already proving useful, says Youth and Community Adviser Mike Clague.

More than 700 young people aged 11 and over completed the online survey. While 73 per cent knew where to seek help if they had a problem with drugs or alcohol, only 53 per cent knew where to go for advice when it came to relationships. A big majority sought help from friends, parents and other family members, although 18 per cent said they kept problems to themselves. When it came to finding somewhere to live, only 40 per cent knew where they might seek help.

A number of questions were also asked about the Youth Service. Mr Clague said:

‘The responses confirmed that a large number of young people on the Island belong to clubs and projects, despite the claims we sometimes hear that there is nothing for young people to do.
‘Three quarters of the young people had attended a club at some time, with 35 per cent attending one of the Department’s clubs at present. Of those, 93 per cent rate their club as excellent or good and 6 per cent as satisfactory.
‘Our youth workers are clearly doing something right,’ said Mike, ‘as satisfaction rates with the facilities and programme of activities were very encouraging.’

He continued:

‘Our clubs and projects are managed by the young people, with support from staff, and 93 per cent were very satisfied or fairly satisfied with having the opportunity to decide what they do at the club.'
The survey asked those who had never attended a club why they hadn’t been and the main reasons were: not knowing about it, that their friends don’t go, that they do not have time or that they prefer to do their own thing. Reasons for leaving a club were: growing out of it, no longer having the time and being bored.
‘The Youth Service will be addressing these issues in the coming year,’ pledged Mike. ‘We obviously need to improve our publicity and to support our terrific staff to make sure that clubs and projects provide things to do that become more challenging as young people develop.
'We could never provide a service that suits absolutely all young people but, by offering a range of places to go and things to do, all locally based and with supportive adults to talk to, we manage to please a high proportion of them.’

When it came to activities young people would like more of, sports and outdoor activities were top of the list for half of them. A third would like more arts activities, holiday schemes and off-Island exchanges or visits.

The Youth Service operates two outdoor centres, Ardwhallan in West Baldwin and Eary Cushlin near Dalby. A review of the centres has recently been undertaken and it is intended that they will be able to respond to the aspirations of teenagers for more outdoor activities.

Courses in sailing, mountain biking, climbing and kayaking have already been arranged, as well as a kayaking expedition to the Isle of Skye in August and mountain biking in Wales during the October half term. Details of these, and of all Department of Education clubs and projects, can be found by contacting the Youth Office on 686057 or visiting

Young people who completed the survey were invited to enter a draw for an iPod touch, and the lucky winner was Sarah Mercer, from Port St Mary. Sarah was presented with her prize at a meeting of Arbory Youth Club, which she attends.

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