Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Guest slot, Dave Mahon, Programme Manager

I’m all talk...

...and language...

...and communication now.

Hi, I’m Dave Mahon and I’m two months into my role as Programme Manager at The Communications Trust (TCT).

I’ve spent the last ten years working in the local government field, at the Electoral Commission for six and a half years and the National Association of Local Councils for three and a half. Both jobs were challenging in their own way and provided me with many exciting opportunities, the highlight being nine days monitoring elections in Georgia. However, after ten years I felt due for a change and due a new challenge. I’ve found both!

My knowledge of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) was basic before I joined the TCT but the range of needs, the effort that goes into supporting young people and the gaps that still exist has been eye opening. Presently I am overseeing our youth justice programme which is focusing on raising awareness of SLCN across the youth justice system, providing awareness training and developing networks to enable youth justice workers to access information and share experiences. Having met and spoken to people across the youth justice system I am greatly encouraged by their dedication in what are often very challenging roles. It is also encouraging to see that the importance of recognising SLCNs is already a key issue for many across the youth justice system.

Research suggests that at least 60% of young people in the youth justice system have communication needs compared to 10% in the general population. I’m no mathematician but these figures should be a cause for concern. Over half the young people in the youth justice system may not easily understand what is being said to them or may struggle to be understood, this can cause problems around their behaviour, affect their confidence and influence their relationships with other people. Where a greater understanding of these needs exists strategies can be put in place to help the young person and help build better relationships with youth justice staff. We would hope that in the longer term this could have a positive effect on reoffending by young people as their needs are better recognised and catered for at all junctures of the system.

Check out the new Sentence Trouble website, join the forum and let’s start talking more about how we can support young people in the youth justice system.

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