Charles Kenyon: Market Rasen Foyer does vital work for youth

The foyer does a heroic job in difficult circumstances, writes our columnist

The challenges for homeless young people are as great in Lincolnshire as anywhere in the UK. A quarter of those claiming Jobseeker's Allowance here are under 25, and when universal credit arrives it is going to be impossible for those without an address to claim. Only 1.7 per cent of people claim Jobseeker's Allowance in Lincolnshire.

The problem is not a lack of jobs, but a lack of qualifications. Many so-called unskilled agricultural workers are migrants who work hard and fast at a difficult job. Equally, local companies in industries such as engineering struggle to find skilled staff locally so often recruit from abroad.

The foyer in Market Rasen, part of the Foyer Federation, provides housing for 20 residents under 25. They have their own rooms, a supervised residents association and rules to keep the foyer drug and alcohol-free. Residents commit to obtaining training and work, neither of which is easy.

The colleges they attend are almost 20 miles away, as are the large companies that offer apprenticeships. The state apprentice grant is too low for most small companies. Work experience for a small company means someone giving up much of the working day to supervise, and is usually offered only to young people the employer knows because the risks are too high otherwise. The foyer does a heroic job in difficult circumstances. But much greater financial investment and legal protection are needed to assist small local companies to help disadvantaged young people into work.

Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, retiredcolonel@oldvicarage.net

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