Nicole Svensson works as a Custody Suite Caseworker helping young people steer clear from negative influences and pursue positive goals. In this talk given to our corporate partner Farrer and Co she highlights the vital role work such as hers plays in this time of crisis for many young people.
Covid has been devastating for so many people, it has robbed people of their lives, their freedom and their livelihoods. Sadly the ones who are already the most vulnerable in society often take the biggest hit in these times.
This includes our young clients and it saddens me to think of another obstacle they need to face in terms of opportunities and wellbeing. Many are Not in Education, Employment or Training (or NEET as it is often called) after being excluded from school and are now unable to sit their GCSEs.
A big focus of my work is getting my young clients into opportunities where they can build skills, gain confidence and start building a future for themselves, Often this is through apprenticeships, training courses or supporting them into education.
The closure of businesses and job losses as a result of Covid has meant that literally overnight opportunities were removed and replaced with obstacles to struggle against for anyone with even a minor criminal record.
If there is mass unemployment for adults already who have experience and a CV on their backs, where does this put our young people with no experience?
Thanks to money raised by St Giles’s Emergency Covid Appeal I was able to support clients who were on a downward spiral very quickly. In the most difficult times and with the support of my amazing team I got clients into education, training and employment opportunities within a matter of just a few days. Difficult challenges became milestones. However, I wonder what is going to happen in the long term. Other support services for my young clients are uncertain or can take a long time to access. I feel there needs be an urgent, massive push on creating education, training and employment opportunities for our young people as I believe these will become fewer and harder to secure within the next few months.
I know this has been said a hundred times, but it cannot be stated enough – government needs to put more money in to children and young people services. Not enough support is not given at the early stages, young people get thrown out of school yet everyone knows the end result of this. Instead of increasing resources and asking “what is really going on for this child and how can we support”, our young people get stigmatised and pushed away. We need to invest more money in to schools, youth clubs and free activities for children and young people. Positive and stimulating activities should be free and easily accessible for young people and their families. If this happens you will also have adults who can be positive role models helping to raise our young people. We do not choose what family we are born into or our socioeconomic background. If we get an unlucky card we need the rest of society to help us to navigate the hurdles and support us for growth and healing.
It’s a stark thing to say but in absence of workers like us on the ground where would our young people go? What would happen to them without us?