Saturday, 30 July 2011

Broke, not broken: tackling youth poverty and the aspiration gap

This new report from the Prince’s Trust investigates the impact of youth poverty on young people’s aspirations and self-belief. It exposes a huge gap in aspiration between the UK’s richest and poorest young people. Young people growing up in poverty are four times more likely to believe that they will not be able to achieve their life and career goals than those from wealthy backgrounds. It is clear from the report that material poverty in young adulthood is not only strongly linked to poverty of expectations and life-chances but also to poor self-confidence and poor mental and physical health.

These are some other findings in relation to young people from the UK’s poorest families that are particularly significant for people working in schools, colleges and libraries and other parts of the cultural and heritage sector:

  • more than a quarter had few or no books in their home
  • one in three were rarely or never read to by their parents
  • more than a third did not have anywhere quiet at home to do their schoolwork and two-fifths did not have a desk
  • more than a quarter had no access to a computer and almost one in three did not have access to the internet
  • many have struggled with their education

The report contains a number of inspirational case studies: young people who with the help of the Prince’s Trust have succeeded in breaking the cycle of poverty. It concludes with a call to government and businesses to work more closely with charities to improve social mobility and raise aspirations more widely.

The report makes challenging reading. It will certainly inform my training, especially my courses on working with teenagers.