Emerging practice details


C4EO theme: Youth

Youth Engagement Programme – ‘Your Next Move’ NEET Fair, Tower Hamlets

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • Youth
  • General resources

Priorities this local practice example relates to:

    Basic details

    Organisation submitting example

    London Borough of Tower Hamlets

    Local authority/local area:

    London Borough of Tower Hamlets covering eight Local Area Partnerships


    The context and rationale

    Background details to your example

    The Youth Engagement programme was developed to ensure young people in the Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) cohort had a careers and training event exclusively to meet their needs and interests. A variety of learning, education, training and employment providers are offered with specific opportunities targeted at NEET young people and voluntary sector groups offer additional opportunities in volunteering and motivational personal development programmes.

    The Youth Engagement Programme (YEP) was initially set up in 2005/06 in a response to the growing need for Tower Hamlets to tackle and support the high numbers of NEET young people within the borough. The average NEET figure for November - January 2004/05 was 660 young people, representing 10.4% of the total cohort. This increased greatly during the 2005/06 financial year to approximately 743 young people, representing 12.6% of the cohort.

    As a consequence, with existing Targeted Support teams – New Start and Connexions Transition Services, addressing and supporting NEET young people, there was a real need to have something additional that was unique, innovative and ensured there was a reduction in the NEET figures. It was seen as important that the journey NEET young people took was a progressive route into Education, Employment or Training (EET).

    The idea surrounding YEP was to provide a platform where young people could have access to a Personal Adviser and access to ‘role on roll off’ EET opportunities under one roof. It was designed to supplement existing Targeted projects within the borough. This meant young people had choices and were able to maximise all of the opportunities open to them along their journey. This ensured gaps in their NEET duration were minimised or that a personal development opportunity was on offer for them.

    For example, when NEET data for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH) was collected, we could not just look at the pure data, we needed to analyse details about individual circumstances and the complexity in order to arrange satisfactory opportunities and provisions for the NEET cohort. YEP is an innovative approach to ensure services are taken up/provided to the NEET cohort in their localities.


    The practice

    Further details about the practice

    Each partner had a role to play within the process. Tower Hamlets Council commissioned work based learning providers, including voluntary sector groups to set up and deliver a ten week Personal Development programme that led to a progression route into EET. NEET Young people were identified by Personal Adviser’s and referred onto these programmes. Providers were also given a list of NEET young people to follow up and encourage them to attend the programme.

    Personal Advisers have a three step plan to support young people at the beginning, during and after the programme. This was to ensure the young people are supported throughout the programme: their attendance, engagement and progression once the programme comes to an end. As part of this process, all young people who have not had a Careers IAG session are booked in with our IAG services to ensure they have an up to date Careers plan that will assist them in achieving their goal. Both the Careers PA and our Targeted Personal Advisers work together to ensure there is no duplication and a joint approach is undertaken to support the young person on their journey to EET. As part of this journey all participants, including all NEET young people, were invited to attend the YEP event.

    Tower Hamlets Council took the responsibility to send a letter to every NEET young person; this was followed up by a personal ‘door knocking’ invitation by Teaching Assistants (TAs)/Targeted Support Officers (TSOs). The TAs /TSO’s call on every household and invite the young person and their parents/ guardians to the event.

    The Council was responsible for co-ordinating this process, leading on the commissioning of personal development programmes to the voluntary sector and co-ordinating the delivery of the YEP event, and ensuring appropriate EET providers held stalls at the event. Tower Hamlets was also responsible for engaging Personal Advisers (Careers and Targeted) in both the Personal Development programme and the YEP Event. The Council also ensured that all partners’ involved (Post-16 providers, Tower Hamlets College, Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) service, voluntary sector providers) were fully familiar with the aim and the process to ensure joined-up working actually worked with no duplication.

    All partners involved were given the responsibility to ensure they brought all their NEET young people to the event and to ensure they had access to a variety of opportunities that were on offer at the time. This meant the event was solely targeted for NEET young people only.

    As a borough, Tower Hamlets has progressed tremendously and over the last four years has exceeded its targets, on average by 0.6% year on year. The NEET figures have now come down from a very high 12.6% (743) in 2005/06 to 4.9% (350) in 2011-12. The YEP event has been an integral part of the strategy to ensure the NEET figures are reduced.

    Tower Hamlets was then able to commission additional targeted NEET activity programmes for NEET young people throughout the year, who were supported by Personal Advisers from Targeted Support services. The ‘Your next move’ NEET event was set up to ensure all NEET young people, including those who were able to complete a Personal Development Opportunity, had the opportunity to meet a variety of education, employment and training providers. These had current opportunities within their respective organisations, and were able to participate in positive diversionary activities to build confidence and enhance their capacity building.

    An initial letter with an invitation card is sent to all young people and their parents/ guardians. This is followed up with a round of Door Knocking to ensure every young person has received a personal invite to attend YEP event. This personal touch has encouraged both young people to attend the event along with their parents or guardians in many instances. It also allowed Door Knocking staff to create a bond with Parents/Guardians and win their support in getting their young people to the event.

    Young people are supported on the day by Personal Advisers/Case Workers/mentors to go around and explore their options before signing up to one or more opportunities. This is later followed up by Targeted support services with providers to ensure any required support is in place.

    The process has allowed the borough to monitor the NEET cohort over a period of time and ensure the right opportunities are available for them to sign up to. The additional personal adviser support ensures there is further support in place so that young people can be rung on the day, sent a text message or, if necessary, parents/guardians can be rung to ensure the young people attend.

    NEET figures are counted on the average taken over a three month period (November – January) each year. We have therefore been able to support short term NEETs (under 20 weeks) and the long term NEETs (20 weeks plus). This process has allowed us to work with a cohort size of 5,832 of which 401 (6.7%) were NEET in 2008-09. In 2011-12, NEETs were reduced 350 (4.8%) working with a cohort of 7,503. Data is monitored monthly and activities, such as commissioning and Door knocking, are strategically planned to ensure young people are provided with the right support at key times throughout the year.


    Achievements so far

    Further details on your achievements

    The last four years in which the YEP has been delivered has seen NEET figures reduce, exceeding set targets. This has been as follows:

    Table 1

    The event had a ‘motivational element’ to it and created a ‘feel good’ factor with parents/ guardians as this became standard and regular practice. Partners, both learning providers and other agencies such as the Careers service, also felt this was very useful as it created a platform to host a lot of opportunities under one roof.

    Over time, positive responses were received from learning providers and partners, this eventually increased the interest of other providers to attend the event - our shared vision being to support and provide opportunities to a targeted NEET group.

    As the NEET figures shifted around the borough, the event was tailored to be delivered where NEET figures were high.

    Young people moving out of residency meant that a lot of tracking and door knocking had to be undertaken. Developing partnerships with Resident Social Landlord’s and other agencies helped to identify young people earlier so that a personal invite could be given.

    Tower Hamlets, as in many other local authorities, was subject to cuts following the Government Spending Review. This has had some impact on resources but, as an authority, it has been able to maintain the YEP event, as a good practice, and to continue to reach out to the vulnerable cohort providing opportunities for them through the YEP event.

    Two case studies accompany this example and are available from the C4EO team at the NFER



    Other details

    A great deal of time has been spent developing strong partnerships with learning providers and local employers to ensure regular and appropriate opportunities are made available for NEET young people during the NEET events. Systems and processes have had to be developed and co-ordinated with all partners over time to ensure communication flow is good. As a consequence, partners are able to be more flexible with opportunity start dates, procedures are effective to ensure young people who signed up to opportunities are supported by the Targeted Support teams and learning providers/employers to ensure they actually start their course.

    Regular meetings also ensure we are able to tie in our NEET activity providers with our NEET event, and that both services are supported by our Connexions team to ensure young people maximise their engagement in personal development opportunities and then progress onto a secure learning opportunity.

    Teaching staff; youth workers and Personal Advisers have been used to undertake ‘Door Knocking’ and tracking exercises to ensure all NEET young people have been personally invited and supported onto provisions suitable to their needs.

    The most important factor to tie all of this work together and ensure its effectiveness is to create that special relationship with all partners ensuring they understand their role and how they fit into the journey that a NEET young person will undertake. Regular communication with partners also firmed up the co-ordination of the work to ensure it was effective in its delivery and that opportunities and progression routes for young people were on offer when young people were ready. This flexibility with partners ensured there were no delays in engaging young people into some form of learning opportunity, with continued support and monitoring by Targeted Support staff. It also minimised the risk of young people dropping out and that, where a risk was identified, early intervention prevented a young person staying on the NEET list for a long time.

    The Youth Engagement Programme has now been embedded within the delivery of Targeted Youth Support. This is part of Priority and Milestone within the Youth and Community Service. Following a re-structure, the target set for the financial year 2012-13 was to deliver two events. An extract of the service plan is shown below.

    Activity: Lead in the reduction of NEET/ Unknown figures in the borough
    Milestone: Deliver two YEP NEET events in the borough.

    By embedding the YEP within our department priority, we will save approximately a total of £120k per financial year.

    Core leadership behaviours
    The following eight core behaviours have been identified as part of successful elements of leadership (see National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services/C4EO (2011). Resourceful leadership: how directors of children’s services improve outcomes for children. Full report. Nottingham: NCSL. Those that have been emboldened apply to this example.

    1. openness to possibilities

    2. the ability to collaborate
    Our strategy emphasised the need to work in partnership with learning providers, the voluntary sector and statutory services in order to ensure the YSP event was exclusively targeted for NEET young people.

    3. demonstrating a belief in team and people
    Leaders and managers alike had to work closely with frontline staff to ensure clear direction and support was provided where required. Ultimately, frontline staff provided a personalised touch to invite, support and secure EET opportunities for young people as they embarked on their journey from NEET to EET.

    4. personal resilience and tenacity

    5. the ability to create and sustain commitment across a system
    Regular monitoring and review meetings with partners ensured that effective co-ordination of delivery allowed us to achieve positive outcomes.

    6. focusing on results
    Results played a vital part in demonstrating that the event was successful and meeting its intended purpose, furthermore justifying that the resources put in to hold a targeted event solely for NEET young people.

    7. the ability to simplify

    8. the ability to learn continuously
    The process of delivering each event highlights new learning on each occasion, as the cohort changes, the needs and opportunities required at the event also change. We have to be flexible and adaptable to respond to these changes regularly.

    C4EO Golden Threads
    The following Golden Threads apply to this example.

    You can do it – promoting resilience
    Holding up to 4 events a year required us to be resilient in overcoming obstacles, making changes to approaches and delivery as feedback from consultation with young people and new learning highlighted.

    Know your communities
    This was an essential aspect in ensuring the planning and organisation of each event meet the needs to the current NEET cohort, understanding their needs and interests allowed us to secure providers with the right opportunities.
    Together with children, parents and families – involve service users

    It takes a community to raise a child
    It was important for us to work with partners and agencies who work with NEET young people in order to have that understanding of their needs and realise that working together achieves the best results.

    Unite to succeed - the right support at the right time
    Working and planning closely with partners ensured we were able to schedule a plan that provided the right support at the right time.

    From good to great – leadership, vision and embedding is key
    Listening to partners and feedback from young people has allowed Senior officers to plan,
    co-ordinate and embed a vision that has been successfully working for the last six years.

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