Connexions

Anne Weinstock describes how Connexions is opening up a path
towards viable employment for young people.

These are really exciting times for Connexions, the government’s
new advice, guidance and personal development service for 13 to
19-year-olds. A great deal has already been achieved, particularly
in the way we are involving and consulting young people and the
success that we are having in encouraging young people to stay on
in learning. There are now 27 live Connexions partnerships across
England and the service will be national by the end of 2003.

Connexions aims to modernise the way in which young people are
given the information, advice and personal development
opportunities they need to make a smooth transition to adult and
working life. The emphasis of Connexions is very much on tailoring
the right package of support for the individual. It is doing this
by brokering access to a wide range of specialist services.

The vision behind Connexions is that it will maintain, but
disseminate more widely, the many good elements within existing
services, bringing them closer together. It will also improve
services by providing a single point of contact for young people
through Connexions personal advisers. Personal advisers give advice
on a whole range of issues from careers guidance to specialist help
on drugs and alcohol abuse, homelessness or teenage pregnancy.

Ivan Lewis, minister for young people and learning, recently
announced that funding for the service would increase by £35m
for the period 2003-4 to a total of £455m. This demonstrates
the extent of the government’s commitment to Connexions.

Connexions wants to enable every young person to raise their
aspirations and achieve their potential and our achievements are
beginning to show. Over one million young people have already been
helped by Connexions.

Anne Weinstock is chief executive of Connexions National
Service Unit.

The magnificent eleven

Greater Merseyside Connexions has recruited 11 young people
between the ages of 16 and 19 from a range of different ethnic and
socio-economic backgrounds to work as trainee young people
representatives. Known as the “Magnificent 11″ they are responsible
for ensuring Connexions in Greater Merseyside is attractive and
relevant to young people. They are working on projects as diverse
as presenting business plans to council offices to designing
posters and advertisements for local cinema.

Minister sounds out Boston
teenagers

Minister for young people and learning Ivan Lewis recently met
19 teenagers from Connexions Lincolnshire and Rutland to find out
their views on youth issues and government strategy on young
people. The invitation to meet at the House of Commons followed the
minister’s visit to the Our Place Our Space Centre (Opos) in Boston
that provides a one-stop shop offering young people information,
advice and guidance as part of the Connexions service. Over 100
young people from the Boston area were consulted and actively
involved in setting up the centre. Lewis said: “On my recent visit
to the Opos Centre, I was incredibly impressed with the effort the
team had put into making it a success. It is a fundamental part of
Connexions that young people are closely involved in the service’s
development so it provides what they genuinely need.” In the
Lincolnshire and Rutland region there are 67 personal advisers
working full-time in schools, colleges, youth clubs and community
centres as well as in 10 Connexions centres. Since its launch in
April 2001, Connexions has helped 47,523 young people in the
region.

Diploma for advisers

Connexions has developed the Diploma for Connexions Personal
Advisers, which began its roll-out in July 2001. To date, over
2,000 personal advisers have completed the course. All personal
advisers are encouraged to attend this programme.

Regions gain Connexions

Twelve regions in England gained Connexions services in April.
The 12 new partnerships have joined 15 regions that already provide
the service for 13 to 19-year-olds, in the second stage of the
national roll-out that will see Connexions in place in all English
regions by 2003. Three Connexions Partnerships are now producing a
revision and examination stress column in local newspapers, where
young people and their families can write in for advice on dealing
with the run-up to exams. Call Charlotte McLeod, 020 8959
8327, or e-mail charlotte@geronimo2.co.uk

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