A MAJOR effort has been launched to help equip young people in care to succeed in work and life.

Dorset Chamber has launched a new fund, Dorset Chamber Life Skills, as part of commemorations for the chamber’s 70th anniversary.

It will raise money to provide life and employability skills for the rising number of people aged 13-25 in care or leaving care.

The number of young people in care in the county has risen 27 per cent to 485 in the latest statistics, the chamber says.

Chamber chief executive Ian Girling said: “We worked really hard to find a gap where genuine support is really needed.

“Statistics show that young people in care and care leavers are often disadvantaged and their life chances are significantly worse than for young people in general.

“This includes statistics for criminal offences, school exclusions, university attendance, unemployment, training, homelessness and teenage pregnancy.

“Our fund aims to provide vital life skills and employability support to improve the life chances of these young people.”

The chamber will work with local authorities, with its partner Dorset Community Foundation providing governance and distributing the money.

The training and support will be delivered by community and voluntary organisations in partnership with councils. The aim is to cover gaps in current provision and areas where funding does not already exist.

Those include volunteer business mentoring; work experience; safeguarding training; self-esteem and functional skills workshops; life skills workshops; and employability workshops covering job-seeking and interview skills.

Businesses are being urged to make donations and offer other support including work experience, mentoring and training.

More than £4,000 was raised when the fund was launched recently at the chamber’s 70th anniversary ball at the Cumberland Hotel in Bournemouth.

Pasty presidents were among the guests at the event, which was sponsored by the chamber’s longest-standing member, Goadsby, The firm was the first to contribute to the fund, with a £1,000 donation.

Mr Girling said: “We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous support when we launched the fund at our ball and encourage other businesses to throw their weight behind the initiative too.”


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