His comments follow the launch of The Implementation of Connexions in Rural Areas* at the Connexions Rural Mini-Forum in London today, when the report is launched by rural affairs minister Alun Michael. The booklet is a good practice guide aimed at practitioners responsible for delivering services for young people in rural communities.
'Having worked with unemployed young people and young offenders in the past, I know that many of them didn't need to be a problem to society if only they had been given help and opportunities when they were needed. I'm proud of what has been achieved in recent years but there is still more to be done and meeting the need for young people in rural areas is one of our priorities.'
Schemes have already been set up in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in the South East region and are running successfully. In Hampshire, there are already Outreach Personal Advisers (PAs) and district co-ordinators working for Connexions, providing an immediate source of information, services and help to young people trying to find work and develop community activities.
On t he Isle of Wight, Connexions projects include a Girls Friendly Society at Sandown, a Rural West Wight Project at Carisbrooke School and a needs assessment project for the health authority on Teenage Pregnancy, all designed to provide links for young people to get the correct information and help.
Mr Mackay adds: 'This guide is a celebration of the innovative work undertaken by Connexions Partnerships working in rural areas. We have seen some imaginative and effective working practices come out of this work such as one stop shops and moped schemes. We hope to build on this to influence the future delivery of government programs in rural areas.
'Young people and their needs are often forgotten in the provision of services for rural areas, but without these young people being persuaded to stay, there will be no future for anywhere except towns and cities. A guide like this, combined with the imaginative work already being done by Connexions, will help young people to find ananswer to how they can live, work and enjoy living in rural areas.'
Effective Practice in the Implementation of Connexions in Rural Areas is available online.
or can be obtained from Countryside Agency publications PO Box 125, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7EP, Tel 0870 120 6466.
The Countryside Agency is the statutory body working to make the quality of life better for people in the countryside and the quality of the countryside better for everyone.
Connexions provides expert and confidential advice, guidance and personal development services to all 13-19 year olds in England. Connexions Personal Advisers based in schools, colleges, youth centres and high street drop in 'one stop shops' give professional and confidential advice on a range of subjects from careers and education to drug abuse, homelessness and teenage pregnancy.