Young people are being abandoned when they need help the most

Construction Youth Trust works with young offenders, care leavers and soon ex-forces people helping them to find a way to start a new life and career.

We often work with these young people as part of a coherent resettlement programme, working with other agencies to provide a joined up approach to helping them.

However, it is surprising perhaps that this support is not available nationally and that is a postcode lottery as to whether you will receive help. I find it disappointing that at a time when there is clear evidence that young offender programmes actually pay back and saves government money that funding for such an activity is being cut back.  There is also a need to have a coherent approach to support for care leavers and those leaving the forces to ensure that both groups receive help in getting work.

Young people leaving prison, care or the forces need support to be able to get their life on track and find decent housing and reliable employment. Without it many re-offend or find themselves at risk of homelessness and health problems including alcoholism and mental health issues. Over 1,100 ex-forces people end up sleeping rough every year (source: Ministry of Defence) as there is a lack of suitable accommodation and support for them. We also know that in 2011 70% of young offenders were re-offenders showing that without intervention and a suitable resettlement plan these young people are at serious risk of reoffending.

We are failing these young people by not helping them to find somewhere to live and somewhere to work. Construction Youth Trust can help by introducing them to construction and offering them training, qualifications and the chance to get a CSCS card.  Construction is an employment sector with on-going opportunities even in this time of recession and together with our construction industry partners we are helping hundreds of young people find work every year through work placements, apprenticeships and work experience.

However we need the help of other charities and the Government to ensure these young people have the chance to start a new life. A co-ordinated approach will ensure we can help these young people build a brighter future for themselves. We need a comprehensive and national programme designed for care leavers and those leaving the forces. They don’t ask for much – just somewhere to live and a way to earn money to support themselves. We are working hard to help them achieve this – but we can’t do it on our own.