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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

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Our campaign to give our young people a voice

THE Whitehaven News has launched a major campaign to give our young people a voice.

NEXT GENERATION: Robin Whelan, John MacLeod, Sophie Flynn and Bethany Bowe help launch our campaign

This comes at a time when youth unemployment in Copeland is among the worst in the country and when 18 per cent of children in Copeland are living in poverty.

Editor Colin Edgar said: “We know the challenges are there. What we want to do is give young people a chance to be heard.

“In the coming months they will be sharing their hopes and fears, and we will focus on the many organisations which do so much to help turn young people’s lives around.”

The campaign Copeland – The Next Generation – will raise awareness about the activities, groups and support services that are available and we will be looking at the serious issues young people face in today’s society.

Mike Priestley, of Inspira, (formerly Connexions) said: “We have some great young people in the area who we come across in our youth work and careers work everyday. Although the labour market is tight for young people and there are a lot of outside pressures and temptations open to them in their lives, there are still opportunities for people who stick at it. We try to help them to aim as high as they can and work as hard as they can.

“While some people feel there is not much to do there is actually a great range of sports and youth work activity in the area provided by ourselves, and other voluntary sector partners, and there is a lot to celebrate and appreciate in the young people who take part.”

In Copeland, the three most deprived areas are Sandwith, Mirehouse and Harbour wards. Nearly half of children, 49.2 per cent, at Sandwith live in poverty.

Hospital admission rate for alcohol specific conditions in Cumbria is also higher than the England average.

Copeland’s Youth Council has made job opportunities and apprenticeships a priority for the coming year. It also aims to promote activities for young people, and deal with drugs, alcohol and personal health issues.

Emma Dickinson, youth engagement officer for Copeland Council, said: “I think this is a great campaign to be part of. Young people have said there is a lot going on but we are not good at communicating it. Hopefully people will see what is available in Copeland for young people to get involved in.”

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “This is a tremendous initiative and I support it fully. Copeland is a tremendous place. In so many ways there is an awful lot more for young people to do now than there was when I was growing up, but it’s essential that the community listens to our youth and involves them and trusts them in helping to create the Copeland, and the future, they want to see.”

He added: “For Copeland to prosper in the way in which we all want it to, we need the ideas, energy and enthusiasm of our own young people.”

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