It was a bleak week for Wales in employment news when the Welsh Affairs Committee announced only one in nine people had found long-term employment through the government’s work schemes.
The Jobs Growth Wales scheme, separate from the UK government’s Work Programme, was aimed at young people aged between 16-24. It would appear Welsh Government has recognised that youth unemployment urgently needs addressing.
If you think it’s difficult for a graduate with a 2:1 or above to find work, imagine what it must be like for people with hardly any formal education. Many of those people will have come from poor backgrounds, have experienced abusive relationships and have poor health.
Those are the kinds of people who end up committing crimes at a young age. Figures from the Youth Justice Board show there were 3725 young offenders between 15-17 in Wales in 2010-11. Statistics from the board also showed 60-80% of young people were likely to reoffend within 12 months.
Perhaps most pertinent of all, the Ministry of Justice says 74% of ex-offenders having housing and employment problems went back to crime, while a much lower 43% of those not experiencing those problems reoffended.
The evidence overwhelmingly suggests supporting ex-offenders rather than writing them off as unsuitable for work is key to reducing crime, raising employment levels and boosting the economy.
Moving Forward is a project set up by SOVA and other organisations to offer mentoring support to 16-18 year olds who have either left care or have been convicted of criminal offences. Many young people who have been in trouble now want to grow up and get their lives back on track, But there is a lack of services and support to help them rebuild their lives.
I caught up with Rhian Phillips, SOVA’s volunteer co-ordinator in South East Wales for Moving Forward, to find out more about how SOVA is going to help and why this service is so desperately needed.
Check out Sova’s volunteering vacancies for Moving Forward here.