With increasing pressures facing young people in society, and the recent news that youth unemployment is reaching record highs, local charity It’s Your Choice is seeing an rise in the number of people accessing their services, particularly those young people who are not in education, employment, or training.

The charity runs a number of drop in sessions, where young people aged 12-25 in the New Forest can come for confidential help and advice on a wide range of issues – from family problems, debt, and bullying, to mental health, housing – anything that is affecting their lives. It’s Your Choice also runs an Access All Areas Service, aimed specifically at those who are looking for work or training.

Manager Tracey Reynolds says, “There are real issues facing young people in the New Forest, despite the perception that it is an affluent area, where young people have no problems. Lack of transport is a big barrier for young students and jobseekers, and we are also seeing an increasing number of enquiries from those who are homeless or facing homelessness. Our role is to provide the help and support these young people – who often feel they have nowhere else to turn – need in order to move their lives forward, and prevent their problems getting much worse.”

The service operates locally out of Ringwood Jobcentre on Tuesdays between 1pm and 4pm, and the Rainbow Centre, behind Fordingbridge United Reformed Church on Wednesdays, 1-4pm. Young people who cannot get to a session can always call the Freephone helpline on 0800 515819, or visit www.iyc.org.uk to find out more.