Rersearchers from the University of Salford want to talk to the city’s ‘hidden’ young people following concerns they are being left unsupported.
Salford City Council has commissioned a team of academics to carry out research exploring the experiences of young people who are ‘NEET’ – not in employment, education or training – and who do not claim the benefits to which they are entitled.
Although there is a growing body of research around young people who are NEET, there is increasing concern across the country that many of these young people are going unrecorded and are therefore unsupported.
Research Fellow Dr Katy Jones, who is leading the project, said: “There are several suggested reasons why young people are off the radar – such as the stigma associated with receiving benefits, experience of benefits sanctions, taking part in crime or participating in the informal economy by doing odd jobs or street trading.
“However, much of this is based on assumption and there is a lack of real evidence which we are now hoping to address.”
Her team want to carry out confidential interviews with 20 people aged 18-24 who are living in Salford, not in employment, education or training and not claiming benefits they are entitled to.
The project is taking place as part of the Salford Anti-Poverty Taskforce, a collaboration between Salford City Council and the University of Salford to provide high quality research and analysis to support Salford’s anti-poverty strategy No-one Left Behind.
It follows on from other recent studies including the DWP Benefit Conditionality and Sanctions in Salford report, which highlighted the impact benefit sanctions were having on vulnerable people in the city, and the Precarious Lives report into the experiences of those living in the city’s private rented sector.
Councillor Lisa Stone, lead member for children’s and young people’s services at Salford City Council, said: “We are fully aware that too many young people aged 16 to 24 are not in education, employment or training and are working hard with partners to help them.
“Our Connexions service supports over 1,650 young people a year to help them find jobs, courses or training and steer them away from becoming NEET. It’s a very complex issue as up to a third of young people under 19 will spend some time between jobs, education and training as they search for opportunities and find the path they want to pursue in life.
“We track young people until the age of 18 and therefore have excellent information on the whereabouts of our 16 and 17 year old NEETS. This is why our statistics for this age group are higher than other local authorities because we know where these young people are.
“It is much harder to track 18 to 24 year olds because half of those in this age group who are unemployed don’t claim benefits. Government funding cuts have also hit support services hard but in Salford we don’t give up on anyone.
“That’s why we have commissioned the University of Salford to speak to young people and carry out research into this ‘hidden’ age group. We want to know what kind of support they need so we can shape local services in future and help these young people realise their dreams and ambitions.”
Participants will be invited to take part in a short, confidential interview about their experiences and will receive a £10 shopping voucher to thank them for their time.
Anyone who wants to take part in the interviews or can help promote the project through local organisations should contact Katy Jones on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0161 295 7030.