ELIZABETH Reed was in foster care and she needed help.

She wanted someone to talk to about her schoolwork and advice on being at college with dyslexia.

She got it through Connexions - then heard half its staff in Dorset are being made redundant.

The 17-year-old from Hamworthy was one of around 20 young people who protested outside Poole town hall on Monday.

They chose Poole because it suffered the biggest funding cut in Dorset at 55 per cent.

On Friday, fifteen of the 24 staff were made redundant.

Gaynor Evans, a steward for Unison, said: “That was a day I never want to live through again.”

Dorset County Council’s budget has been cut by 27 per cent, and 44 of the 76 staff have been made redundant.

Bournemouth’s budget has been cut by 47 per cent - staff are yet to hear their redundancy news.

Gaynor Evans said Connexions’ mix of careers and housing advice and mediation between parents and teenagers prevents future problems.

She said it cut the percentage of Poole’s young people not in employment or education (NEETS) from 5.4 per cent to 5.3 per cent.

“The police told us for every one per cent increase in NEETs, there’s a six per cent increase in the work the police have to do,” she said.

The government wants a new ‘all ages careers service’ but Mrs Evans said the Connexions staff could have taken that role.

The government also removed the ring fence around Connexions funding and made councils prioritise spending in other areas of education like schools.

Connexions has offices in Poole, Bournemouth, Weymouth and Blandford, and sub offices in Wareham, Swanage, Shaftesbury and Gillingham.

Vicky Wales, head of young people’s services at Poole Council, said it is working with Connexions to limit the impact of ‘dramatic’ changes to funding.

Di Mitchell, Bournemouth Council’s director for learning, said it is in negotiations but it is ‘imperative’ that the quality of service is maintained.