EMPHASIS – Engaging, Motivating, Participating with Homeless young people And Supporting them In Self-development.
Working across Caerphilly, Newport and Torfaen, EMPHASIS provides an intensive and assertive outreach programme to the most excluded and non-engaging 14-19 year olds, who are most at risk of homelessness. Each area has a Young Person’s Advice Worker to provide long-term support to identified individuals.
It is a well evidenced and documented fact that for around 80% of people currently in prison, institutions or on the streets, their problems started from an early age, and effectively, they dropped out of society at the ages of 13 to 16. They then continue to fall through the gaps in service provision.
Targeting those most at risk
There exists a core group of young people known to one service or another that, despite this knowledge, will end up as this type of statistic. This is often due to the fact that many statutory agencies are constrained to working with specific client groups, and therefore these excluded young people are not specifically targeted for support. It is often the case that, despite the efforts of agencies, the young people disappear and lose contact. Very often, young people exclude themselves due to aggressive and/or challenging behaviour.
The Welsh Assembly Government estimates that across Wales approximately 10% of 11-25 year olds are defined as NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). Young People’s Partnerships and Keeping In Touch (KIT) Co-ordinators agree that this figure is grossly underestimated. The vast majority of these NEET young people, particularly in the 14-19 age range, are far more likely to be at risk from, or experience, homelessness. In turn, this creates the well known cycle: without a home, access to education, employment or training is almost impossible - and vice versa.
A project such as EMPHASIS that targets those most at risk fits within the remit of KIT strategies, as well as making the vitally important link between homelessness, housing, education employment and training.
A letter from the mother of one of our service users
"We were a family that had reached breaking point. This was due to problems with drug abuse and drug related problems, such as shoplifting, to pay for those drugs, and as a result, trouble with the police. My lovely son had turned into a nightmare and I didn’t know where to turn to get help for him. Out of desperation I phoned social services, but because of my son’s age (he was 16 at the time) they couldn’t help us. We were put in touch with Llamau…
Through the wonderful work that they do we are now once again a good family unit.
Anything that can help vulnerable teenagers realise their full potential and help them know that they can do better and have a brighter future for themselves - with the help and support of people like the EMPHASIS project and Support Workers - can only be a very positive thing. I know from our own experiences that without EMPHASIS we would be just another family ruined by drugs. Thank goodness for this truly wonderful project, and Llamau - a truly wonderful organisation."