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Afro-Caribbean Kids Get Helping Hand

Two workers helping under-achieving African-Caribbean youngsters in Coventry in the first scheme of its kind in the country have been so successful that their posts have been made permanent.

Annette Hay and John Robinson, both 'Coventry Kids' and former pupils at Whitley Abbey School, were initially employed as Personal Advisers on a unique three-year pilot scheme, but will be kept on as part of the Connexions Service.

They started in October as part of the Young, Gifted and Educated Project and have already built a caseload of twenty disaffected youngsters aged 13-16.

Annette said:

"We are dealing with young under-achieving black kids who have either been excluded from school, who are not attending school or at risk of being excluded.

"They were referred to us by parents, families, teachers, education officers, careers advisers, social services, members of the community and in one case by a further education college.

"We offer one-to-one mentoring, because they often just need someone to listen to them, someone who is not related to them and not a teacher.

"They unburden themselves to us about issues at home and at school and we then try to support them and help them to overcome any problems."

But Annette and John are concerned that cases are not being referred to them early enough.

John said:

"We have to get across the message that it makes our job harder if a youngster has reached the point where he/she is excluded from school.

“There are warning signs that people notice and do nothing about, but we need to be contacted at a much earlier stage so that we can have the maximum impact.

"We have been well received in the schools and we are definitely making progress. As our service becomes more widely known we expect to receive many more referrals and at some point in the future it might be necessary to try to get funding to increase our staff."

Annette and John are now seeking the use of a room in which to hold mentoring sessions. Annette said:

"We need to speak to disaffected youngsters away from their school or home environment; a youth club room, or some other similar venue, preferably for daytime use, would be ideal.

"We are determined to make this project work for Coventry's young people.

“It is the first African-Caribbean pilot scheme in the country as part of Connexions Service, the government's strategy for the disaffected."

The two Personal Advisers are operating with guidance from the African Caribbean Community Steering Group, who are working in partnership with Quality Careers Service with additional support from Area Co-ordination.

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CWN / Coventry City Council / Area Coordination / 1 Mar 01
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