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Research finds young people in rural Suffolk facing complex challenges

PUBLISHED: 14:18 24 June 2017

Bill Turnbull (centre) hosted the launch of the Seckford Foundation�s Annual Review and rural research in partnership with the University of Suffolk. (L-R) Professor Noel Smith, researcher at University of Suffolk; Graham Watson, director of the Seckford Foundation; Roger Finbow, chairman of the Seckford Foundation; and Dr Shamser Sinha, researcher at University of Suffolk. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER PHOTOGRAPHY

Bill Turnbull (centre) hosted the launch of the Seckford Foundation�s Annual Review and rural research in partnership with the University of Suffolk. (L-R) Professor Noel Smith, researcher at University of Suffolk; Graham Watson, director of the Seckford Foundation; Roger Finbow, chairman of the Seckford Foundation; and Dr Shamser Sinha, researcher at University of Suffolk. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER PHOTOGRAPHY

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Young people living in rural Suffolk are at risk of feeling “locked in” and disconnected from education and employment opportunities, new research has found.

Suffolk charity the Seckford Foundation commissioned the research which discovered some youngsters having difficulties over finances, particularly low incomes, compounded by the complex lives they lead.

They are attempting to maintain jobs and education in the face of access issues, and some also had to manage poverty, family caring responsibilities, homelessness, and mental health issues.

The research found these complex challenges resulted in young people having restricted access to opportunities and a sense of being “spatially locked-in” and disconnected.

The experiences of both advantaged and disadvantaged young people were examined.

Recommendations include a call to parish councils and community organisations to halt and reverse the trend of declining youth provision in rural areas, and the involvement of business organisations and employers in giving talks in schools to broaden young people’s aspirations, and help connect young people to jobs, training and careers knowledge.

The Seckford Foundation, which launched the research by the University of Suffolk at an event hosted by ex-BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull, said the findings would guide its priorities in the future.

Graham Watson, director of the Seckford Foundation, said: “We undertook the research to highlight the rural issues that young people face and we hope that it will lead to better support and more opportunities for this county’s young generation.”

Dr Shamser Sinha, researcher at the University of Suffolk, said: “The research has identified income deprivation as an obstacle to progression for disadvantaged young people in rural Suffolk.

“This is exacerbated by rural accessibility issues, and sometimes also by young people coping with a range of other complications including family caring and financial responsibilities, health issues, and housing insecurity.

“It also highlights the skills some young people are developing amidst adversity and what the community could do to improve progression for disadvantaged young people.”

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