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CUF: work with young jobless

14 March 2012

by Ed Thornton

No vacancies: more than one million 16-24 year olds are out of work PA

No vacancies: more than one million 16-24 year olds are out of work PA

CHURCHES “could and should” do more to tackle youth unemploy­ment, a report published this week by the Church Urban Fund (CUF) says.

The number of 16- to 24-year-olds out of work rose to 1.042 mil­lion, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday. In the three months to January, the number of unemployed rose to 2.67 million.

The CUF report, I Am One in a Million: Young people’s experiences of unemployment, draws on interviews with young people in 18 focus groups. It says that churches and other voluntary groups can provide services such as “mentoring; peer support groups; paid and voluntary work experience; training and per­sonal development courses; and em­ployment advice”.

Churches could also provide “in­formal support, especially to young people who are living independently or require additional help”.

The report states that churches “have a responsibility and an im­port­ant role to play in addressing the problem of youth unemployment, recognising that every young person is made in the image of God and has a valuable contribution to make to our society”. But churches are “not. . . currently very active” in this area: a recent CUF survey suggested that “only three per cent of churches have organised activities to address a significant problem with unemploy­ment in their local community.”

The report suggests ways in which churches can highlight youth unem­ployment, such as developing materials for sermons or home groups and “engaging with a theatre group who are interested in devel­oping the research into a perform­ance”.

The report also recommends that the Church set “a good example” in its employment practices and use its “collective influence” to “support and campaign for government pol­icies that support unemployed young people to achieve their po­tential”.

Paul Hackwood, who chairs the CUF’s trustees, said: “There are some excellent initiatives that demonstrate what can be done using the people, buildings, and social capital available to churches and faith-based groups. These range from mentoring schemes, offering one-to-one sup­port to young people, through to creative arts projects to help unem­ployed young people learn new skills and explore different career options.”

A copy of the full report is available to download for free here

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