Doncaster Voices: What more can be done for Doncaster’s youth?

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Welcome to Doncaster Voices, your weekly debate forum. This week we talk about Doncaster’s youth.

Alannah White, Doncaster Youth Councillor

Across Doncaster there is a massive gap between educational establishments such as our schools and colleges and the requirements of the job market. As the business sector grows, it provides job and placement opportunities for young people – expansion of the airport, National Rail College and iPort. Our educational establishments need to address the gaps in the curriculum to meet the needs of required skills that will help the business sector thrive. Young people in Doncaster need to learn the basic skills around applying for jobs, interviewing techniques, CV writing and how to gain skills that employers are looking for. More can be done to make these jobs widely known and readily available. Many young people are led to believe they are required to follow a traditional route to get a job. They are not aware of other opportunities for them like the ones listed above.

Bill Morrison, Chair of Trustees at East Doncaster Development Trust

We don’t have youth clubs like yesteryear. Reintroduction is part of a solution. New-style clubs with 21st century approach – gaming areas, area for TV sports and lounge with coffee bar, themed perhaps. In addition why not have weekend boot camps for the more energetic – obstacle courses, rock climbing, camping. More importantly the youth must have a level of control and ownership of all activities. Their ideas must be listened to and acknowledged. Participation and partnership is the way forward. You cannot ask them “what would you like?” and then ignore them because, if you do, you are courting disaster. Youth of today are nothing like we were. They live in a technological age and seek entertainment and leisure pursuits of the same. Of course, if all else fails, bring back conscription to teach them. Joke! Or is it?

Aidan Nicol, Doncaster Youth Councillor

Doncaster is the place that we call home and, despite its ever growing potential and exciting improvements, I feel it lacks the youthful glow that other places seem to thrive off. I think it’s essential for young people to engage with the authorities and decision-makers so we have a firm input in the town we could potentially be bringing our own children into in the future. Being part of the Youth Council enables me to do this. However, we need to target the wider mass of young people who perhaps don’t have such fantastic opportunities. We should also aim our focus at the young people who live in the more rural districts of Doncaster, who are particularly deprived of their say. However, I feel that the youth of Doncaster should also be showing more of an effort to engage as it is ultimately a two-way process.

Jackie Hewitt-Main, founder The Cascade Foundation

We need to afford youngsters as many opportunities as possible to try out any activity they wish. From the ‘usual suspects’ already available such as swimming, football or rugby, to having a go at something a little more unusual like golf, Tai Chi, yoga or ballet. And that goes for boys as well as girls. Bringing my kids up, we used to try something new on a weekly basis. As a result, we discovered my eldest son was great at golf and my youngest had a real aptitude for skiing. Discovering this gave them both a real sense of achievement, key for any child’s development. We should enable them to travel as much as possible. Life and cultural experiences children gain when they travel is invaluable, returning with those unique experiences that would, in turn, help them enrich their lives and those in their local community.

Frank Colley, Doncaster Leaving Care Team

I welcome the council’s decision to remove care leavers under 25 years of age from the burden of having to pay council tax. As this is the most common way that young people get in to debt and the repercussions can be devastating for them leading to court and sometimes homelessness and sofa surfing or living on the streets. The next step would be to wipe off the existing debit. They need now to consider reclassifying two bedroomed properties to one bedroom properties as the second easiest way care leavers get in to debit is not paying the bedroom tax.

If you are reading this and asking why should care leavers be singled out for these discounts. Consider that they do not have the privilege of the bank of dad or family to fall back on to offer that support we all take for granted. Neither do they have the supportive social networks, safety nets or budgeting skills that are part of family life. They struggle with their independence and as soon as they get that freedom we start punishing them for not having the money to feed themselves let alone pay bills that they may not even know about.

Bailey Holland, Doncaster Youth Councillor

More needs to be done in Doncaster to support young people with high-functioning learning difficulties and mental health conditions; i.e. Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder etc. While there is significant support in place for people with severe learning problems and people with debilitating physical conditions such as cystic fibrosis, the current education system does not provide enough support those who need help in a different way. It’s like just because some are academically gifted, people think they cannot possibly need any help, to say nothing of invisible illnesses – battling depression, anxiety, bipolar and any other mental health conditions can be the toughest and longest-lasting struggles of a person’s life at all ages, not just in youth and far more needs to be done in Doncaster to provide support to people suffering from them.

* If you want to get involved, submit 150 words with name, title and photo to chris.page@jpress.co.uk and your views could appear next week, when subject is . . . “What can be done to clean up dirty Doncaster?”

* Send your letters on this – and any other subject – to editorial@doncastertoday.co.uk for publication