1 May 2018: The Government announced in January 2018 that the Better Public Services programme would not continue in this form. These pages have been archived.
Youth Service is a new way of supporting disengaged 16- and 17-year-olds as well as 16- to 18-year-old parents back into school, alternative education, training or work. The teenagers get one-on-one mentoring and support from specialist workers, such as Fati, who work for Work and Income or contracted community youth organisations.
They work intensively with the young people, helping them make plans and get whatever help and services they need to make more of their lives. In one case, where it seemed certain that a client was facing a jail sentence, it was through Fati's support that the judge decided to give Sam a chance. Instead of jail, Sam was sentenced to community work.
Fati found community work linked with a youth programme, hoping to get Sam thinking about a positive future.
"It made me stop and think big time," says Sam. "My brother got stabbed up in jail, just about died. I don't want to follow in his footsteps.
Fati says that Youth Service focuses on young people at a pivotal time in their lives, when almost every decision has the potential to be life-changing.
"You have to tackle them in that period where they are experimenting, when they are easily swayed by negative influences. The important thing is to get your foot in the door, start listening to the young person and working out what their barriers are," says Fati
"Once we start sorting through the issues together and making a plan, it's great to see that spark of hope in a young person's eyes. That's what it is all about."
Tracey Burge, a counsellor for Catholic Social Services in Wellington, has been surprised at the range and flexibility of support Fati can co-ordinate through Youth Service.
"When Futtz said he could help me with literacy courses for a client, I thought he had misunderstood. Young people who weren't on a benefit didn't used to be able to get support like that from Work and Income," says Tracey.
"It opens the support network wider for the young person, rather than just relying on one provider. Futtz can get all the relevant people on board when they are needed. It feels cohesive."
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