Marginalised children: New ideas to help hard-to-reach teenagers

They are the group of young people who have slipped through the net. They find themselves without education, employment or training, and their lives are in serious danger of spiralling out of control.

NEETs, as they are known, represent more than 8% of 15- to 19-year-olds. This figure compares unfavourably with the same group in mainland Europe, with Germany at 4.6% and France 3.4%.

This group needs help and support. Here, we look at some of the latest projects designed to provide the essential guidance to steer this vulnerable group away from a life without hope.


When a young person is arrested and taken to a police station, it is a traumatic time and they need all the help they can get.

The national charity of under-supported young people, Rainer, recognised this time as a crucial one in a young person’s life and decided to be there to help. A grant of £692,000 from the Big Lottery Fund will enable that.

Building on the success of a pilot scheme in Essex – the Rapid Action Project (RAP) – Rainer wanted to put a support worker in police stations to help young people while they are in custody.

The RAP, which won an award from the Howard League for Penal Reform last year, helps younger children who are in trouble with the police, are persistent truants or who live with domestic violence.

Rainer also intends to draw on the experience of its appropriate adult schemes, which provide a volunteer when a parent or carer is unable to attend a police interview with a young person.

The new project, which is funded solely by the lottery, will run for two years from June at police stations in three places – Essex, Lewisham-Greenwich and “Wessex” (the Portsmouth, Southampton, Isle of Wight and Basingstoke area).

Rainer volunteers will ensure the interview process is carried out correctly, offer one-to-one counselling and mentoring, and make referrals to other services.

Fran Pollard, Rainer’s head of new business development, says: “We want to reach out to young people who are not in touch with support. If the young people don’t get immediate support they lose interest.”

Rainer asked 100 young people what kind of service they needed and responded to the findings. An advisory group of young people will monitor the project.

At the end of the project Rainer hopes to produce a manual to help other service providers and will look to extending the scheme across the country.

Joyce Moseley, chief executive of Rainer, says: “By placing Rainer youth workers where they are needed most we will be able to engage with under-supported young people and their families and help to divert them from criminal activity.”

Further information
Phone: Rainer on 01959 578 200

What do you think?
“Provision needs to have the trusted adult, the right environment and the right skills packages, and one without the others rarely brings about effective change.”
Jennie Butterworth, director of external affairs with Fairbridge, a charity that works with young people in inner-city areas

“This is an innovative project that should create a holistic approach to the needs of young people at risk of committing crime.”
Jane Slowey, chief executive of the Foyer Federation


A new relationship between a foyer, which provides support for independent living and work, and Virgin Megastores has given 12 young people in Manchester the opportunity to benefit from advice on work opportunities.

As part of its RE*Generation programme, which Virgin Retail plans to extend to the rest of the country, residents of the Manchester Foyer took part in workshops over a three-month period.

The workshops covered subjects such as applying for a job, interview skills and creating a good impression in the workplace.

Andy Richardson, personnel and development director for Virgin Megastores, says: “We’re very pleased with the outcome of the workshops, which were acting as a trial for our relationship with foyers. We will now look towards extending the programme to other foyers across the UK.”

Further information
Contact: The Foyer Federation on 020 7430 2212

What do you think?

“It’s great that Foyer has managed to get the support of a corporate the size of Virgin. I’m a great believer in exposing young people who might not have had many opportunities to the benefits that can be gleaned from working in an interesting environment.
“Simply feeling a part of this can help to improve self-esteem and self-confidence and show young people that there is a wide range of options available to them.”

Chris Wright
, director of services at Rainer


With so much building taking place around the country, the construction industry is arguably one of the best to consider entering.

The Prince’s Trust’s new Get Into Construction course offers the opportunity to gain experience of life on a building site, and some entrants will even get the chance to work on the Olympics site.

The course was piloted last year in London and 15 young people completed it. Of those, 13 have now started apprenticeships. Since then the course has been run in Northern Ireland, and a further two courses are taking place in Colchester and Kent this year.

Daniel McIver, aged 18, from Plaistow, Newham, was unemployed and looking for an apprenticeship in the construction industry before he went on the Get Into Construction course. He says: “My dad was a carpenter and I grew up around the construction industry so it’s something I always wanted to do.

“I feel very privileged to have made the course and I am very pleased with the way things have gone. The Prince’s Trust offers a great opportunity, and I have every intention of making the most of it.”

Further information
Contact:  The Prince’s Trust on 020 7543 1234

What do you think?
“Programmes such as Get into Construction give young people more than just qualifications. They help young people raise their confidence and improve their social and business skills, as well as improve their levels of numeracy and literacy.”

Susanne Rauprich, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services chief executive


Many young people love playing computer games. So what better way of engaging with them than to give them the chance to design their own?

That is what Rolling Sound, a small limited company based in New Cross, south London, has done with its new computer games design course.

Piloted last summer, the course proved so popular that Rolling Sound decided to make it one of its main offerings. Since November, 76 young people not in education, employment or training have taken part in the course.

It is run with the support of London East Connexions, and leads to a qualification accredited by the Arts Awards, which it is hoped will become the equivalent of a GCSE or BTEC.

Rolling Sound director Thomas Hegarty says that, generally speaking, NEETs are poor at expressing themselves.

“We are surprised at how popular it is, although many of these young people are sitting at home playing computer games,” he says.

Further information
Contact: Rolling Sound on 020 8694 6201 or go to

What do you think?

“Activities such as those offered by Rolling Sound offer valuable opportunities for young people to develop skills and interests. Now, more than ever, we should encourage young people to re-engage with learning.”
Helen Hibbert, strategic director of Partnership for Young London

This article appeared in the 10 May issue under the headline “Less hard to reach”

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.