Labour promises new activities for teens

Labour pledged to ensure all teenagers have access to a wider
range of activities and more places to go after school in its
election manifesto last week.

The party added that young people themselves would be involved
in designing and managing the new local activities if it came to
power for the third time.

The young people’s involvement would take place through a
‘national framework for youth volunteering, action and
engagement’, a community service designed to give them a
stronger voice.

The proposals will lessen fears that young people have dropped
off the government’s radar after the constantly delayed youth
green paper failed to materialise before the election.

Other commitments in the manifesto include more dedicated
education provision for disruptive and excluded pupils. It
describes education as Labour’s number one priority and
states that no school would become a dumping ground for such

The party goes on to state that it will continue to
‘overhaul’ the youth justice system and improve young
offender institutions. Programmes targeted at young people at most
risk of offending would also be increased by at least half and
there would be more use of intensive community programmes including
electronic tagging and tracking

Proposals on young people’s health include expanding drug
treatment services for the group and ensuring every child has
access to a school nurse.

A commitment to ensuring that services are designed to meet the
needs of disabled children and their families is also made. Jo
Williams, chief executive of learning difficulties charity Mencap,
said that the “explicit pledge” to this group was
highly significant and to be welcomed.

Labour’s pledge to support families is made strongly. The
document outlines plans to increase maternity leave to nine months
from 2007, worth £1, 400, with the aim of upping this to a
year by the end of the parliament. Labour says it is also
consulting on how to give fathers more opportunities to spend time
with their children including the option of sharing paid leave.

Other measures include looking at the development of a new
information service, Parents Direct, to provide advice on all
aspects of children’s services and parental entitlements.

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