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26 Nov 2009
Last month when headlines screamed: TEENAGE MOTHERS TO
BE PLACED IN WORKHOUSES, 19 year-old Bexley single mother
Nicola Lucas and colleagues decided to find out what the story was
behind this headline.
Nicola is taking part in Headliners - in partnership with The
Bexley Challenge Programme, an initiative delivered by Groundwork
London. The Bexley Challenge Programme is working with young people
who are not in education, employment or training and are deemed
hard to reach. The aim of the programme is to raise self-esteem,
confidence and support them back into sustainable education,
training or employment. Groundwork London provides weekly workshops
that address the barriers and situations they may find themselves
in, offering impartial advice and guidance in a non-judgemental
atmosphere. Nicola, together with Amelia Tatham, 19, and Natalie
Russell, 19, headed over to Canary Wharf in early November to
interview prospective parliamentary Labour Party candidate Howard
Dawber (Bexleyheath & Crayford) on this topical issue.
From the interview they established that the Labour government’s
proposal was not about keeping teenage mothers under lock and key
but more about offering support for those mothers who do not have
the support at home. Such as that provided by Foyers, a network of
integrated learning and accommodation centres which provide a space
for young people who might extra help, employment opportunities or
Howard Dawber said: “It is not about locking up teenage mothers,
the scheme is an expansion of existing scheme for teenage mothers
who aren’t living at home It will be run by the Foyer Foundation
Teenage mothers will get support with parenting skills and getting
back to work and develop a support network.”
For Nicola who has a three-year-old son and struggles on her own
to raise him, the government’s proposal is a welcoming idea. Nicola
said: “As a teenage mother I would have liked to have had that sort
of support. I think the scheme would be useful to teenage mothers.
It’s hard looking after a child on your own.”
All the reporters found Howard friendly and informative.
Nicola said: “I didn’t think politicians had a sense of humour.
Howard was very friendly to us. It was my first ever interview as a
reporter for Headliners, it was the best day of my life.”
After the interview Howard treated the young reporters to a trip
down the river Thames taking in landmarks such as Parliament, and
Of the programme as a whole Nicola Lucas commented: "Coming to
the Bexley Challenge Programme has built my self esteem and
confidence, it has changed my life, I feel like I've got the old me
Amelia Tatham said; "Coming to the Bexley Challenge Programme
has built my self esteem and confidence and I have learnt new
skills in journalism and realised that I really have a interest in