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