Compulsory 50 hour community work for teens

By Alice Cannet

Gordon Brown announced today that young people will be expected to do 50 hours community work in the government’s new scheme to create a citizenship conscious Britain.

In a podcast on the Downing Street website, the prime minister said: “I believe that every young person can make a difference and by involving young people to become forces for good in our communities we will together build a better and more responsible Britain.”

The scheme which is due to start in September will introduce 20 000 new roles for 16-19 school leavers who will undertake full-time community service alongside training.

The new measure requires every young person to contribute at least 50 hours of community service by the time they are 19 and a compulsory community service was not entirely ruled out.

The government will provide support for schools and councils to help increase voluntary work and provide service opportunities in the scheme which will cost £146million over two years.

Series of pilots will be set up to research ways to increase the participation of young people in community service in a given area.

The community work would include helping in an old people’s home, campaigning on local issues, fundraising for global causes and helping deliver environmental projects.

Compulsory citizenship classes, which play an important part in the new 14-16 education curriculum will also encourage pupils to take an active part in their community.

“If we have learned anything in the past few years, it is that the pursuit of narrow self interest does not self the public good, in fact it positively hurts it,” Mr Brown said.

“We need to encourage a new era where young people learn the power of serving something greater than themselves.”

Writing in the News of the World on Monday last week, Mr Brown said he wanted to create a Britain where community service would be a normal part of teenagers’ life.

The scheme will be run by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and will target school leavers enrolled on the Entry to Employment (e2e) programs, which encourage teens to take up apprenticeships, jobs or further learning.