Posts Tagged ‘youth’

Mike Simpson will press for sustainable funding for youth facilities across South West Surrey

I recently visited the Wey Centre in Haslemere where I met a group of young people following concerns about the lack of facilities they have available to them.

I listened to Sharon Mitchell and a group of young people who have formed a charity, ‘Stars in the Helping’. It was set up last year to provide help for children in Kenya. They have been sending children clothes and have also paid for food to be provided in Kenya. They visited villages in the area last August, working in orphanages. As a result they are going to help rebuild a school next year.

Sharon said “It was great for Mike to come and see the efforts of some of the local children in Haslemere. It is important that we increase the profile of the charity so that we can increase our membership, helping young people get motivated”.

I have a lot of experience in working with young people having been employed by the YMCA for over twenty years, currently as a Chief Executive Officer. I have worked with hundreds of disadvantaged young people including those with drug and alcohol problems, homeless young people and pupils at risk of exclusion from school.

I have become increasingly concerned with the inadequate facilities that there are for young people. Young people are sometimes targets for criticism. The lack of appropriate facilities for them can lead to problems with members of the public in open space areas.

The Wey Centre is a much needed facility that deserves sustainable funding and quality youth work provision by Surrey County Council. I was very inspired to hear about the young people who are involved in Stars in the Helping and the impact they are having on the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.

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Speaking at the hustings in Farnham

There is a tragedy unfolding in the current recession. It is the prospect of a lost generation of young people, unable to secure University places and unable to find work. Most politicians are not talking about it. After all in recent elections only a small proportion of people under 25 years old have voted, so there may not be many votes in taking up their cause.

What may shock you is that nationwide 40% of unemployment is accounted for by young people aged 16-24 years. If current trends continue as many as 1 in 4 young people could be out of work by the end of the year.

For all those people of older generations who are now considering voting in a new Tory government I would ask you to cast your minds back to 1979, the last time there was a change in government to the Tories. Mass unemployment amongst young people was one consequence of the policies that followed, with a lifelong impact on vast numbers. I hope that we do not see such a scenario again.

I have worked with young people almost all my working life and my organisation works to a mission statement that aims to ‘Empower young people to fulfil their God-given potential’. Whether or not people have our faith-based ethos everyone can surely agree that our society is enriched by unlocking the potential of the young, rather than letting them languish on benefits.

I welcome the policy proposals of Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, launched last week. He calls it a ‘Lifeboat for the lost generation’. It is a set of crisis management measures funded by reversing the cut in VAT from the end of this month. It includes some great ideas such as paid internships for young people, fully-funded adult apprenticeships for those over 18 years, more university and college places and removing a lot of the crazy rules that stop young people on Job Seekers Allowance from bettering themselves.

The enthusiasm, passion, idealism, talents and inventiveness of youth are greatly needed in an ever more competitive world economic environment. I fear that the economic policies of the Conservative Party would not release that potential, but instead could see our country return to the dark era of the early 1980s. That is one reason why I am passionate about fighting to win this constituency come the General Election.

Mike Simpson
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for South West Surrey