Anne Weinstock explains how Connexions’ mission
parameters are very much in the hands of young people themselves.

Connexions looks to give young
people advice, guidance and chances to develop in a way that has never happened
before. And listening to young people explain what their needs are is at the core
of the service and its development. It is essential for Connexions’ success
that young people have the opportunity to voice their opinions and that we in
turn really listen to them and act upon their ideas on how it should be
delivered and what it should offer.

Connexions partnerships involve young people as
much as they possibly can in the decision-making and evolution of their local
service. For example, 80 young people were recently the focus of a Connexions
youth charter day in Hertfordshire to give their opinions on what the
priorities for the service in their area should be.

Young people are even involved in recruitment
panels for personal advisers and senior managers in partnerships. Before the
panels, they are given training so that they can play a part in all recruitment

Ivan Lewis, minister for young people and
learning, recently visited a Connexions centre in Boston, Lincolnshire, and was
impressed by the Opos (Our Place Our Space) centre. Over 100 teenagers were
heavily involved in setting up this centre and helped decide everything from
the type of services that should be offered to the building’s furniture and
fittings. This high level of involvement is at the core of the Connexions

Our aim is to ensure that every young person
has access to support, advice and personal development opportunities through
one integrated point of contact. We are sure this is what young people want
because they have played such a pivotal role in the development of the service.
Above all, it is vital that young people are consulted on the services that
affect them.

Weinstock is chief executive of Connexions National Service Unit.

Go east,
young people’s minister

Ivan Lewis, minister for young people and learning,
heard about housing problems and other concerns for young people in east London
when he visited East London Connexions to hear the views of local young people
involved in the partnership.

Lewis, joined by national Connexions head Anne
Weinstock,  met young people who have
played an integral part in the creation and planning of their local

Lewis said: “I was particularly interested in
the Young People’s Charter. This and my discussion with the young people
highlighted many issues, including housing problems, which they face.”
Connexions London East was launched in April 2002, along with 11 other regional
partnerships, as part of phase two of the national roll-out of the service.
Connexions is available in 27 regions. This will extend to all 47 regions in
England by April 2003.

fire fighters of lakeland

Young Fire Fighters in Cumbria, sponsored by
Connexions Cumbria, were involved in a practical display of their skills
recently when chairperson of Cumbria Council, Bob Edgar, presented young people
with certificates to mark the birth of the county’s newest youth organisation.

Connexions Cumbria, the county fire service and
the Allerdale committee of the council have worked together to create the
scheme. Connexions Cumbria also sponsored the training programme, which has
helped to make the necessary changes to the fire

station to accommodate the young people.

Personal advisers from Connexions Cumbria have
worked closely with local schools to identify young people who would benefit most
from involvement in the scheme, and have supported young people throughout the
delivery of the programme. The training aims to provide participants with an
enhanced sense of discipline and purpose. As part of the programme, young
people receive a theory test for the driving examination, first aid
qualifications, and National Vocational Qualifications. There are now plans to
set up a network of young fire-fighter groups throughout the county.

help spreads

Connexions partnerships in Cornwall &
Devon, Cumbria, Lincolnshire & Rutland, and Suffolk have launched a series
of advice columns in local newspapers to extend the reach of their services and
help support young people during exam time. Local newspapers are running a
regular column written by a local personal adviser to offer advice on subjects
such as coping with revision and stress. People can get a response either
privately from the personal adviser or via the newspaper column. The Connexions
advice columns will appear weekly in the Torquay Herald Express, Barrow
Evening Mail, Lincolnshire Echo
and East Anglian Daily Times until
the end of June.

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