THE number of young people unemployed in Winchester has almost doubled since the start of the recession, a new survey reveals.

The Prince’s Trust, which works to tackle youth unemployment, published its annual Youth Index last week (Jan 2).

It said the number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work in July 2008 was 1,100, compared to 2,100 in July 2013 – an increase of about 91 per cent.

The trust also said that 16 per cent of young people across the South East had experienced mental health issues, including suicidal thoughts or panic attacks, as a direct result of unemployment.

One in five of those surveyed said they felt like an ‘outcast’.

Last year the charity worked with 3,871 disadvantaged young people across the South East and staff say they have seen a 188 per cent increase in the number of young people claiming benefits for more than six months since the beginning of the recession.

Hampshire County Councillor Alan Dowden is the Liberal Democrats spokesman on adult social care. He said: “We have serious financial constraints but I do believe sometimes we can find money for wars quite readily, and we dish money out all over the world, but charity starts at home and we should be looking after our own youngsters.

“They’re the lost generation. Most unemployed adults have experienced work and have had some training, of whatever kind. But these young people who have not experienced it could get trapped in a cycle.”

Chief executive of Winchester Citizens Advice Bureau, Jenny Meadows, said she was surprised at the drastic increase.

“When young people come to us it’s generally about consumer-type issues, such as mobile phone contracts, but we have got quite a few other unemployed people who get tied up in payday loans. When they get to the stage when they cannot pay them back, then what do they do?”

“In Winchester the number of young people coming into the bureau who are in difficulty because they’re unemployed has been quite steady,” she said.

But Dermot Finch, southern regional director of The Prince’s Trust, said in the South East there are 7,360 young people facing long-term unemployment and that many of those slip under the radar.

“Our research highlights that unemployed young people are significantly less likely to ask for help if they are struggling to cope. Our message to them is this: there are organisations out there that can help you. At The Prince’s Trust, we provide vulnerable young people with sustained support, through both our long-term personal development programmes and our work within schools across the capital. If you are struggling to get back into work, education or training, you are not alone and you need not struggle alone,” he said.

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