New scheme to help youngsters into employment and education

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SUSSEX Downs College has won a contract worth £1.6million to help young people, 16-18 year olds, who are not in employment, education or training in a scheme called Opt In+.

The project will be managed by Sussex Downs College and delivered across, East Sussex and parts of Surrey through nine delivery partners over three years.

One of the target areas is Eastbourne where the Foyer in St Leonards Road will be the centre for the programme.

On offer will be a flexible ‘start any time’ programme, which will give young people the opportunity to experience a range of workshops, group work and receive one to one intensive support together with the chance to improve their basic skills so that they can move on to further education, including apprenticeships, or work.

Melanie Hunt, principal and chief executive of Sussex Downs College said, “I am delighted we have been successful in our bid to the Skills Funding Agency enabling us to deliver this programme. Sussex Downs has an excellent track record of managing ESF funded projects across the South East region.

“For example under the previous Opt In programme we engaged and supported almost 300 young people who were not in education, employment or training, more than 70 per cent of whom progressed to positive futures, with the majority moving into full time education.”

Clare Westbrey-Tong, development and project manager, who led the successful bid, said, “With Opt In+ we will be targeting specific areas using accessible centres with a dedicated resource room. Based on our past experience, the most successful re-engagement strategies concentrate on meeting the needs of each young person through personal and social support. With this in mind all young people will be supported to create their own, individual life plan and guided to achieve their aspirations.

“There are a number of barriers to engagement for young people, with many having had a negative experience at school, but Opt In+ will be different, offering short flexible activities which will be fun and engaging, many based around vocational tasters from creative art and design to practical skills. We will also be encouraging volunteering as a means of developing new skills.”