CLOSING THE GAP: THE VIEWS OF YOUNG PEOPLE REGARDING THEIR NEEDS
Geoff Lindsay and Dimitra Hartas
CEDAR, in collaboration with the Warwickshire County Council, carried out a need-led consultation with young people (Hartas and Lindsay, 2007). This needs analysis involved four groups of young people, namely, young carers, those who have experienced bullying, young people with learning difficulties / disabilities, and looked-after children. The aim of this project was to obtain young peoples’ views about factors / circumstances in their life that facilitate or hinder the process of achieving the Every Child Matters outcomes that are key to well-being in childhood and later life. The needs analysis yielded interesting results with regard to young people’s access to services, as well as access to physical, social and virtual spaces. The young people, within the family and school contexts, showed competency with decision making on issues such as bullying, learning and practical support, free time, and resilience regarding the impact of bullying on their social interactions and academic performance. However, the majority of young people were not aware of and did not access a wide range of services (eg, respite care, advocacy support, mentoring, ‘buddy’ systems), perceiving these services to be outside the perimeter/influence of their life. These findings raise important implications with regard to promoting integrated services and opportunities not just for young people but also for their families and communities at a local level.