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More young people involved in play and youth projects 1 October 2008

MEMBERSHIP of Department of Education play and youth clubs and special projects increased during 2007/2008.

The Department’s Youth and Community Division operates 18 play clubs (for school years 4, 5 and 6), 23 youth clubs (for school years 7, 8 and 9) and 25 special projects (for school years 10 and over).

In the year ended March 31 2008, membership of clubs and projects rose 2.7 per cent, from 3,034 to 3,117 – the third highest figure on record. Holiday Venture Scheme

The Youth and Community Division’s annual report on participation and contact reveals that, at 29 per cent, it is reaching more young people its via clubs and projects, its street-based schemes (which do not require membership) and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award than the 25 per cent recommended in the UK.

Membership of play clubs increased by 1.6 per cent to 904 in 2007/08, the report states. Membership of youth clubs decreased by 0.7 per cent to 1,230. Some 32 per cent of eight to 10-year-olds belonged to play clubs and 42 per cent of 11-13-year-olds joined youth clubs, a pleasing figure according to Mike Clague, Head of the Youth and Community Division.

Membership of special projects increased by 8.6 per cent to 982 during the year and nearly one in five 14-18-year-olds was involved. However, some schemes for young people of that age, such as detached ‘street’ work and drop-in centres, do not require formal membership, so the contact figure in that age group is actually higher.

In play clubs, 46 per cent of members are girls. However, disappointingly this drops to 43 per cent in youth clubs and 32 per cent in special projects and Mr Clague said: ‘Ways of making the service more relevant to young women need to be found.’

The total number of recorded ‘contacts’ between the Youth Service and young people in 2007/08 was 63,236, Mr Clague said, and 3.6 per cent of young people participating in clubs and projects were identified as having special educational needs, a figure comparable with previous years. ‘The above are all just statistics and certainly don’t give a flavour of what youth work is all about,’ said Mr Clague. ‘As well as the hundreds of different activities and special events on offer each week, young people have opportunities to talk to adult youth workers they can trust and can meet their friends socially.’

Mr Clague said the Youth and Community Division recently received an email from a 21-year-old who was interested in a career in youth work. It said: ‘I went to a lot of youth projects when I was younger and was helped a lot by the people who were working at them. I would like to help and work with young people because I could very easily have gone the wrong way if it wasn’t for different clubs and things like the Buzz Bus.’

Mr Clague said: ‘The Buzz Bus regretfully has gone but other exciting projects and clubs remain. Our challenge for the future is to make sure that our services meet the aspirations and needs of our children and young people.’

He said this would become ‘increasingly relevant’ as the Department of Education works with the Departments of Home Affairs and Health and Social Security to more closely integrate the services provided for children and young people to assist them in achieving the five outcomes set out in the Chief Minister’s Strategy for Children and Young People 2005-2010: Staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and prospering.

Young people who want to offer their views on the Youth Service should email youthservice@doe.sch.im

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