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Major Boost For African-Caribbean Youngsters

Around 250,000 will be spent in the next three years on a unique project to encourage and inspire African-Caribbean teenagers in Coventry.

For the first time Personal Advisers working on the Young, Gifted and Educated Project will operate on a one-to-one basis with excluded or under-achieving youngsters in the 13-16 age group.

The posts have gone to two local people, whose own experiences will provide the perfect example for the teenagers to follow. They will operate with guidance from the African Caribbean Community Steering Group, who are working in partnership with Quality Careers Service and the West Indian Community Association with support from Area Co-ordination.

Annette Hay (34) and John Robinson (32) were born in Coventry and are former pupils of Whitley Abbey School. Both have three children and have been involved in community work with young children for several years.

Annette left school with few qualifications, but through determination and hard work she won a place at the University of Warwick in her late 20s and achieved a degree in Social Studies four years ago.

She said:

"I had very low expectations for myself when I left school and it took me a long time to find the confidence to push myself to get the qualifications necessary to go to University. Hopefully my achievement can inspire young African-Caribbean kids to do likewise."

John spent 15 years working in job centres and being involved in community projects for the young. He says:

"I wanted this job because I want to make a difference for young people."

The Personal Advisers are acting as a referral point to help young African-Caribbean under-achievers reach the correct sort of aid for their particular problems.

There will also be one-to-one mentoring in a holistic approach to helping under-achievers, who can make the initial approach themselves or be referred to Annette and John by their parents or school teachers.

"We want to help young people by being at the start of their journey, not at the end of it," said John. "We would love to be able to help them achieve their potential."

"I have a long history of working with young people in the black community and I feel that many of them have been under-achieving for a very long time. Hopefully, through my own experiences I can encourage them to achieve in school and out of school," said Annette.

The advisers are based at the Quality Careers Service in Greyfriars Lane, Coventry and the project is financed by the Neighbourhood Support Fund and Quality Careers Service.

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