CXK, in partnership with East Sussex County Council and Hastings Borough Council, has launched a young-person-driven research project to identify and understand the factors contributing to the persistently high levels of NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) young people in Hastings.
More than 50 local stakeholders and partners, including the Mayor of Hastings and representatives from the Youth Futures Foundation, FSN, East Sussex County Council and Xtrax, gathered at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery on the evening of Thursday 26th January to attend the project’s launch event. The event saw local young people speak about their experiences and challenges around employability, whilst a representative from East Sussex County Council highlighted the power of young people advocating for the causes they care about in the community; a central focus of the project.
Funded through a Connected Futures grant by the Youth Futures Foundation, the Connected Futures Hastings project will recruit a group of 10 Hastings young people – training and supporting them to become peer to peer researchers who will connect with other young adults in Hastings to listen to, and record, their experiences to discover the root causes of the disadvantages young people face around employability – with the ultimate aim of informing system change.
Statistics show that in 2019/20 the percentage of young people leaving State-funded mainstream schools without any plans to continue in education, employment or training were 8.9% in Hastings, compared to 7% in East Sussex, 4.6% in the South East and 5.6% in the whole of England. The project will explore the range of factors that might contribute to this, including impacts such as challenging family circumstances; school absences and suspensions; and lack of appropriate, consistent, integrated support. The project will identify and understand the ramifications on individuals and local communities.
Pauline Smith, CEO at CXK, says: “CXK is absolutely delighted to be working in partnership with East Sussex County Council, and Hastings Borough Council to deliver the Connected Futures Hastings project. Young people in Hastings have been very clear on the challenges and frustrations they face in understanding or fulfilling opportunities that should be made available to them after leaving school. Our project will empower young people to articulate their needs, review the challenges and provide positive and constructive ideas and solutions to improve their education, and employment pathways moving forward. Young people will drive this exciting period of change and development and we are thrilled for the exciting outcomes that will enhance opportunities across Hastings.”
Leader of Hastings Borough Council, Councillor Paul Barnett, said: “Hastings Borough Council are proud to be part of the core partnership for this project. It provides a great opportunity to improve outcomes for the young people of our town.
“This is a pioneering project for the town, and it’s great to be linking in with towns across the country so that we can share lessons learnt and can build skills and resilience across our community and further afield.”
Councillor James Bacon, Mayor of Hastings, commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed hearing more about this exciting project for young people in Hastings. It is vital that we empower our young people and ensure they provided with the opportunities to unlock their full potential. This research project will put our youth at the centre of shaping the future of our town and I am excited to hear the results.”
Full details of the project are available at: cxk.org/services/connectedfutures. Any young people in Hastings or surrounding areas, aged 16-24, that are keen to get involved in co-developing the research should email CFHastings@cxk.org.