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Annual Review 2002/03

In the Community

One of the objectives of the Foundation is to reach out to those young people who, for whatever reason, are not being supported by mainstream education. As we develop our work beyond the school, there is a strong emphasis on the links between formal education and the local community. This often involves partnerships between schools, FE colleges, Pupil Referral Units, youth offending teams, the youth service, Connexions and a range of other organisations working with young people.

Youth Act! community projects

2002/3 saw the launch of a new project to foster young people's political engagement through supporting their initiatives for change in their school, youth group or local community. Based on an internationally successful programme developed by US charity Street Law, Youth Act!™ provides free training to develop participants' active citizenship skills – including campaigning strategies, advocacy and teamwork. Senior Programme Directors at Street Law visited the UK for a week in May 2003 to run introductory Youth Act! sessions for adults and young people in Stoke-on-Trent and London.

For the project's first pilot year in the UK, 11-18 year olds in Haringey and Islington were invited to identify their issue of concern and suggest ideas for how they might tackle it. Eight groups were chosen to take part by a panel of adults and young people, addressing a range of issues from improving local facilities to personal safety and crime reduction. Training sessions began in September 2003. Youth Act! in London is funded by the Bridge House Estates Trust Fund and the Carnegie UK Trust. We are seeking funding to expand the pilot London-wide and, ultimately, nationally.

Youth Act! is supported by Ms Dynamite. Her spokesman said: “She's always said people should speak up for themselves and have their say, and Youth Act! runs in line with this.”

Post-16 Citizenship

Building on the evaluation we undertook last year, the Citizenship Foundation was commissioned by the Learning & Skills Council, in conjunction with the Learning and Skills Development Agency, to manage the post-16 citizenship pilot in the London Central area. The consortium covers a wide range of different citizenship-related projects, from taught courses on financial literacy, to youth-led research on black culture and life on local housing estates, and investigations into policy and practice on 'corporate citizenship' by business studies students on placement in the City.

As part of this, we ran a youth TUC Congress, in partnership with the TUC and hosted at their headquarters, involving around 250 16-19 year olds from 25 schools and colleges across the country. Speakers included Mandy Telford of the NUS and Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London. The format of the congress was used later in the year as a model for a Youth Assembly at Brent Town Hall, in partnership with Alperton Community School Millennium Volunteers and Brent LEA.

Citizenship Forums

Based on the successful model in Stoke-on-Trent, and with funding from the DfES, a cross-community Citizenship forum was launched in East Sussex this year. Developed in partnership with the Local Education Authority, the forum brings together schools, the youth service, the Police Authority, disability forum, Youth Offending team, Asylum Seekers Team and many others working with young people, to support citizenship as a community-wide responsibility. The Foundation having provided the impetus, the East Sussex forum is now being sustained by the local Healthy Schools Scheme co-ordinator. Similarly, the original forum in Stoke goes from strength to strength in the hands of our former partners at the LEA. The Citizenship Foundation is also working in partnership with Nottingham LEA to create a forum in the city.

Rizer youth offending website

The Citizenship Foundation was commissioned by the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham to write the content of a new website aimed at young people at risk of offending, which provides impartial information on the criminal justice system. Staff at the Foundation wrote six stories, based on the experiences of real youth offenders, and provided an exhaustive glossary of legal terms 'translated' into everyday language. As well as case studies and factual information, Rizer includes a free telephone helpline and email and text messaging service through which young people can get additional advice from trained advisers, provided by the Connexions Service. Michael Wills MP, Home Office Minister for Criminal Justice, launched the website at an event hosted by the Law Society in May 2003. www.rizer.co.uk

Guide to the Law for refugees

We obtained a grant from the Camelot Foundation during the year to develop an equivalent of the Young Citizen's Passport for young asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. The project began in Autumn 2003 and will be developed with support from, among others, Hammersmith & Fulham Social Services, the Legal Action Group and the Refugee Council.

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