Key Away Experience For Youth at Risk

Young people who have benefited from a Thurrock Council partnership initiative have just returned from a ‘transformational’ residential trip.
The 40 young people, aged 15 to 17, have spent the last week (Sunday 14 – Friday 19 March) at the Pioneer Centre in Shropshire, where they have taken part in an intensive programme of activities, aimed at improving their personal and social development.

The residential was just one part of the Youth at Risk ‘Community Transformation Programme’, which offers support to young people who have experienced anti-social behaviour or underachievement in their lives. 

Cllr Sue MacPherson, Thurrock Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “This excellent scheme is about reaching out to vulnerable young people who need to be guided and supported to help them achieve their full potential. The transformation programme helps the most excluded and disaffected young people, including those who are young offenders, misusing drugs and alcohol, or involved in gangs, to reframe their views and choices, through intensive training and coaching.”

Over the past six weeks, volunteers from the local community have been trained by Thurrock Council’s Youth at Risk team – to help them work with the young people on the transformation programme, building relationships that lead to change, supporting the young people in accessing local services, engaging with positive activities, setting and achieving goals, and handling challenges.

Cllr MacPherson added: “The success of this scheme relies on the amazing effort of a handful of dedicated and compassionate volunteers, who have given up their personal and work time to make sure these young people have a chance to change their lives. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the volunteers, and staff and partners, who have worked tirelessly to make this transformation programme work.”

As part of the initiative, every young person has their own ‘life coach’ – who meets with them on a weekly basis to support them in the three main goals they have chosen to better/enrich their lives. Work is also carried out in partnership with local schools and businesses to help the young people engage in education, employment and training.

Local author Sharon McGovern is a volunteer on the scheme, as well as a family support officer. She said: “We have all worked so hard to engage these young people, and to see that underneath it all, they really want to be believed in, and stand on the right path.

“I have put weeks of my time into this project, as I feel we can only clean up our community, and keep our young people safe, if we work together to transform their lives and show them that we care enough to give them positive things to do.”

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