Paul Oginsky is Chief Executive of the Young Adult Trust and co-founder of Weston Spirit. David Cameron launched the YAT at the end of October.

"Adulthood is the acknowledgement that the world is like a children’s playground on a much larger scale” – Young person’s response to Young Adult Trust research project, October 2006.

YAT is an independent charity created by the British youth sector in response to a challenge set by David Cameron at a meeting of the sector in January 2006 to give every young person in Britain a sense of purpose, optimism and belonging. 

The initiative specialises in personal development for young people by offering a nationwide programme in which they can explore transition to adulthood. It provides a challenging and secure environment for young people to join in a common experience as they engage in the question of what they would be doing if they were recognised as adults by our society.

Unlike other cultures young people in Britain do not have a clear and
common ‘rite of passage’ when they can establish themselves to have
become adult.

We are very fortunate in this country however to have a youth sector
that currently provides effective personal development courses for
young people. Our motivation for the Young Adult Trust is to bring
together this work in a truly collaborative way to offer a programme
that provides a real social mix for young people and create a focussed
debate on the transition to adulthood to increase awareness of its
importance in our society. 

The Young Adult Trust is all about action. In the last nine months we
have built a fully functioning organisation and are creating a range of
practical and demanding activities to develop, confident, independent
and community-minded young adults. Before a young person participates
in a programme they have already been challenged to think about
adulthood and have worked with one of our youth agency partners on
their programme. 

The actual Young Adult Trust programme has structured personal
development, community and team activities designed by different youth
sector agencies around the questions: Who am I?, How do I relate to others?, and what am I capable of?
The young person will spend 10 days, living with people from all
communities looking at different aspects of decision making,
opportunity, attitudes and behaviours in order to live a purposeful
life and contribute to the full extent of their abilities. Our message
is if you behave like an adult you will be acknowledged by an adult.

The Young Adult Trust programme is meant to be ‘tough’ and the young
people who volunteer will be a living testament to the quality of
referral organisations.   

The concept is being defined through pilot schemes running throughout
next year. 25 young people worked through a prototype in October and
are now helping to develop the pilots. This activity is critical to the
work we are doing to make our case persuasive and credible. We are
working hard to research different ways in which adult society
recognises young people’s development from childhood to maturity. We
are looking specifically at Adulthood and the Law examining the links
between age and adulthood and outlining the ways in which age is used
to confer adult status with our legal systems. In conjunction with this
we are looking at other countries and cultures to find out how they
support young people’s transition process. 

It is crucially important to understand the views and experiences of
young people themselves at this critical point of their lives and help
wider society recognise the role this transition plays in our
communities. We are gathering young people’s opinions and you can read
some of our preliminary findings in our recently published research
booklet written by YAT’s Research and Policy Advisor, Adam Nichols,
entitled “Purpose, Optimisim and Belonging – Supporting the Transition
to Adulthood.”

As a new charity we have a lot to prove and we invite feedback and
contribution from voluntary and non voluntary sector groups, companies
and individuals. There are many opinions about transition to adulthood
and we would like to hear yours. Get in touch by emailing
or call on 020 7702 1584. It is really ambitious to get everyone to
contribute their best work into a collaborative programme and even more
ambitious to offer it to every young person in the country but if we
are successful the benefits are well worth the highs and lows of the
journey. Will you join us?

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