New forum launched to encourage young people with additional needs and disabilities to speak up

Young people across Hampshire with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) have an exciting opportunity to join a new youth forum to voice their opinions and share experiences directly with decision makers from the local authority on topics that directly affect them – such as education, training and employment opportunities

Mar 19 2024

Anyone aged 14 to 25 with SEND can join the new SEND Youth Forum – you don’t need to have a formal diagnosis or an Education Health and Care Plan.

Members will have opportunities to make new friends, learn new skills, feed back their firsthand experiences of education, work and training, gain insight into how decisions that affect them are made, and influence those decisions at times too. The Forum has been set up in collaboration with learners currently enrolled in the County Council’s Supported Internship programme, which offers real workplace experience alongside support and training with a range of Hampshire employers.

Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, Councillor Steve Forster, said:

"All young people have a right to be heard on issues that affect them, and that is particularly important for young people with additional needs and disabilities, as they can face extra barriers to education, employment and healthcare. We want to make Hampshire an inclusive county and encourage input from those with firsthand experience wherever we can. We are also reaching out to employers to take on young people with SEND, particularly to tackle skill shortages Experience tells us that they are likely to find that they have taken on a particularly reliable and dedicated employee."

The announcement comes ahead of National Supported Internship Day on 27 March, when all learners on the programme will be taking part in activities to raise awareness of what it can offer to young people and employers. The County Council has developed ‘Employability Hubs’ in partnership with local colleges, ensuring that Supported Internships are now more accessible to young people across a wide range of Hampshire venues.

For further information on the forum or the supported internship programme, contact [email protected] or visit the Supported Internship pages on the Hampshire County Council website.