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17th Mar 2016

Connexions Buckinghamshire centres in Aylesbury and High Wycombe will close their doors to unemployed and vulnerable young people on 24th March. The two centres, which have been on the high streets for more than a decade, are closing after budgets were more than halved by Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) for 2016/17.

Connexions is a local authority funded service for young people who are at risk of becoming, or are already, unemployed and not in education or training. Despite the cuts the service will continue. Connexions staff will now meet young people at libraries, job centres, coffee shops and even at homes.  

The Connexions name will be phased out over the coming months and the service will operate under the name of Adviza, which is commissioned by BCC to manage Connexions.

Councillor Zahir Mohammed, a cabinet member for Education and Skills, visited the Connexions centre in Castle Street, High Wycombe, on 3rd March and told staff that despite the centres closing he was pleased that the service would continue under Adviza. He admitted that the council had faced some very tough decisions in this year’s budgeting process.

Katharine Horler, Adviza’s CEO, thanked Mr Mohammed for his help to prevent cuts to the Time to Talk youth counselling service, which is also managed by Adviza. He successfully secured transitional funds for that project.

The council has also been supportive of the charity’s efforts to seek alternative funding, and has been an investor in a social impact bond that Adviza developed.

Cuts will also impact school budgets. BCC funding will now only cover support for learners with special educational needs or Education, Health and Care Plans (ECHPs) and not pupils at risk of leaving school without work, training or further education. Schools that had previously bought careers guidance for all pupils may now be forced to use their individual budget to cover costs for those most at risk.

Carolyn Taylor, Adviza’s Careers Advice Manager, anticipates growing concerns among parents about the declining level of careers guidance provision for their child as they face their options in years 11, 12 and 13.

“As a charity our first priority is to make sure that the most vulnerable get the support they need and we will work hard to help schools continue to meet this objective.

“But all young people have a right to impartial and professional support to make the right choices about their future and the reduced budgets will have a knock on effect,” she said.

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