Youth talk to Archbishop about Criminal Justice

Friday, 13th June, 2007
Leicester YMCA's young residents advise The Archbishop Of York on the Criminal Justice System

Young people from Leicester YMCA were in London on Tuesday 12th June, to attend a special YMCA Youth Justice Seminar at Lambeth Palace, hosted by The Archbishop of York, the Rt. Rev John Sentamu.

The seminar brought together influential figures from the criminal justice system and young people, who shared their personal experiences and their views on how the system could be reformed and better serve the needs of young people who pass through it.

Courtney Isaac and Drew Oates, residents of Leicester YMCA's Aylestone Centre, felt that being able to offer their opinions and perspective was a positive experience. Courtney said, "Not many people get to do what we did yesterday and I'm grateful for them listening to my story."

The Rt. Revd John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and YMCA President said: "Hearing the stories that these young people tell about themselves, I know there is hope for them. We need to give these young people - and others like them - more opportunity to talk, to contribute and to belong to a future that offers them more stability than they have experienced in the past. We need a system that will support their development for the future more than punish their past offences."

He added "The greatest experts when dealing with young people are the young people themselves. Young people must be at the centre of our understanding so that the system can become more responsive to their needs."

Working in partnership with Leicester City Council's Youth Offending Service, Leicester YMCA was the first voluntary sector organisation to offer bail support beds in the city. Launched in 2005 The Youth Offending and Bail Support Projects based at Aylestone are flagship developments providing bed spaces for young people risk of custodial remand. Young people on Community Orders are provided with accommodation and support to reducing the risk of re-offending or custody. The projects aim to support young people who have offended or are at risk of offending to re-integrate into society and obtain the skills necessary to address their offending behaviour.

YMCAs across England are committed to ensuring more attention is given to the personal and social development opportunities available to young people whilst in custody so that when they leave, they are able to make a valuable contribution to their local communities and wider society. They also want to encourage the Government to give special attention to young people aged-between 16-25, just as the Youth Justice Board does for those 18 and under.

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