Youth on dole up by 310%

THE number of youths who are now long term unemployed in the Craigavon area has exploded by 310% since the recession began.

Youth Charity The Princes Trust warned about the dramatic rise as they embark on a new campaign to help young people in the poverty trap.

Figures obtained from the government’s official statistics show that the number under 24s claiming Job Seekers Allowance in Craigavon for more than six months was just 100 in August 2008 whereas in August 2012 the number mushroomed to 410.

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In response to this steep rise in long-term joblessness, Prince’s Trust Ambassadors Alesha Dixon, Mark Ronson, Brooke Kinsella and SBTV-founder Jamal Edwards, will take part in the charity’s first live-streamed Youth Forum - reaching out to unemployed young people and those struggling with other issues in the UK today.

Against The Odds will be streamed live on The Trust’s Facebook page on Wednesday (17 OCT), giving young people the chance to have their questions answered by the celebrity panel - all of whom have overcome barriers to get where they are today.

And more than 462 local disadvantaged young people will be given the opportunity to get their lives back on track with the launch of an innovative new series of Get Started programmes themed around arts, music and sport, delivered by The Prince’s Trust and supported by the Big Lottery Fund.

A total of 42 one week courses delivered over the next five years at four locations in Northern Ireland – Craigavon, North Belfast, East Belfast, Newry are aimed at young people aged 16-20, who have left care, have an offending background or are at risk of offending, have disengaged from mainstream education and are furthest from the job market.

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The Princes Trust was awarded £484,319 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Empowering Young People programme to run the Get Started programmes which will aim to improve the self esteem, confidence, education and job opportunities of the young people involved.

Speaking at the launch Ian Jeffers, Director with The Prince’s Trust in Northern Ireland said: “With almost 24,000 18-24 year olds currently unemployed locally, it is crucial that we act now and intervene at an early stage to tackle the very real threat of a lost generation.

“This new series of Get Started programmes is specifically targeted at geographic areas we have identified as having the greatest need. Each themed course is specially designed to re-engage young people to take control of their lives, build their confidence and motivation, and set them on the right path to education, training and employment.”

Three Get Started programmes are scheduled before the end of this year including Get Started with Hair and Beauty, Get Started with Film, Audio and Animation and Get Started with Boxing.

Young people aged 16-20 can find out more about The Prince’s Trust Get Started programmes by calling 028 9074 5454.