FROM THE PITCH TO JOB CENTRE
WITH YOUTH unemployment at over one million, Premiership footballer and new FutureYou ambassador, Jack Rodwell, today experienced first-hand the emotional impact of being out of work as he shadowed an unemployed young person for a day.
The Everton midfielder Rodwell (21), spent time with Meshack Wright (21), who has been without a job or training since June 2011, as he searched for work, struggling to survive on a tight budget, finding out for himself just how isolated and unsupported unemployed young people feel and the negative effects this can have on their mental health, self-esteem and emotional wellbeing.
Meshack, who has qualifications in electrical engineering but who has been unable to find work for almost a year, is supported by FutureYou, an innovative online peer-to-peer mentoring programme for 14 to 25 year olds who are not in education, employment or training. Funded in part by Nominet Trust, FutureYou, www.thefutureyou.org.uk, harnesses the power of social networking to provide a community of support and counselling, including career information, advice and guidance in real-time.
Since launching in 2010, FutureYou, which is also supported by Google, has reached almost 300,000 (288, 262) young people, with over a third (32%) of those who have gone through the programme going back into education, employment or training. FutureYou also has over 1,000 (1,156) mentors – trained young people who are supporting their peers as they search for work, training or courses.
Jack Rodwell said:
“Spending the day with Meshack was a real eye-opener. Of course I’ve heard the youth unemployment statistics, but seeing the day-to-day reality of not having a job, or being in education, really brought home the awful effects this can have on young people. It can destroy their confidence and self-esteem, and leave them feeling worthless and hopeless. That’s why I’m delighted to be a FutureYou ambassador. I’m pleased to be able to help in raising the profile of this issue. It’s crucial that we do more to support young people who are not in education, employment or training. Otherwise we risk a generation being left on the scrap heap.”
Emma-Jane Cross, FutureYou Chief Executive, says:
“The impact that being out of work or training can have on a young person’s mental health and wellbeing cannot be underestimated. We know from our own research that it can lead to depression, self-harm and even thoughts of suicide. If the Government is really serious about its wellbeing agenda more must be done, or we risk losing a generation of unemployed young people to mental ill-health and all of the associated costs – financial and emotional – that this entails.
“We need to think differently about how we’re helping our young people to find work or courses. We need to stand up for them, and think of them as people rather than statistics. With FutureYou, we’ve proven that, by using digital platforms and harnessing the power of social networking, we can really make a difference to young people’s prospects and increase their emotional wellbeing and social mobility – very cost effectively”.
Annika Small, CEO Nominet Trust spokesperson, says:
“FutureYou is more effective than the Work Programme with 32% of those using the service going back into education, employment or training. This demonstrates the power of social networking in giving young people access to a community of support and counselling from trained peer mentors. Nominet Trust is delighted to support FutureYou as a leading example of how digital technology can be used in imaginative ways to address big social challenges.”
Young people who are not in education, employment or training, or those in danger of becoming so, as well as young mentors and older people who would like to volunteer as FutureYou Life Mentors, can visit www.thefutureyou.org.uk