Worth the Effort

16 October 2023
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Mark Pearson, Project Coordinator on our ‘Key to...’ services, on the need for assertive outreach that can make sure young people have a chance and a choice after leaving school.  

Young people have the right to an education. However, many who leave school at 16 are missing out on education, training and employment. 

When in school, young people will receive careers assistance - but if they have not been able to attend school, they may leave without having had any career planning at all. At the point of leaving school, the expected process is that young people who have not attended are contacted, often directly through their parents, and offered appointments to meet at school or receive at least one home visit to advise about post-school options. For any young people or families who do not respond or who turn this down, it could be viewed simply as their ‘choice’ to engage or not to engage with the statutory support on offer when leaving school.

Cyrenians’ commitment to being a trauma-Informed organisation leads to a deeper understanding of ‘choice’. Future choices for individuals or families who are experiencing everyday challenges may not only be harder in their situation, but even just getting to the point that they can see that they even have future choices may require assistance through relationships built on trust, empathy, guidance, patience and unconditional positive regard. Above and beyond this insight, it also takes sheer effort and commitment on the part of our Key to Potential workers.  

For us, the offer to visit someone at home, the offer to return, to call, to text, to leave things for a week, to pick things back up again, to go at the pace the young person or family can manage, all require a mindset that validates their intrinsic worth as human beings regardless of what they choose to do or not to do. We are also aware that if we don’t offer this commitment, there may not be anyone else who will at this time. 

We believe all young people deserve careers guidance and assistance with their post-school careers and we believe everyone, especially those experiencing the greatest challenges, is worth the time and effort required to be able to do this. 

Our ‘Key to Potential’ and ‘Key to College’ services work with 65 young people each per year, so 130 in total. Since April, Key to Potential has taken on 48 new clients, and Key to College 48, so we’ve received over 75% of our annual referrals in the first six months of our services. Many young people leaving school right now have experienced disrupted education throughout their entire secondary schooling, mainly caused by COVID. As we go into Key to Potential’s twelfth consecutive year in Edinburgh, the need for assertive outreach to ensure these young people receive assistance with further education, training and employment has never been greater. 

For more information about our Key To... services, check out our How We Help pages