The proposal for a "gateway" period in which young people will receive guidance and support prior to commencing the six-month employment and training options of "welfare to work" is important. However, many disaffected young people have had difficult experiences at Job Centres and careers services.
I agree with Polly Toynbee ("Labour's Big Idea - will it really work?", 7 July) that individual attention is the crucial ingredient that will make the New Deal a success. The voluntary youth sector has a special expertise in the areas of mentoring, shadowing, and providing informal personal and social education to young people. Many of our 135 members, voluntary youth organisations as diverse as the Woodcraft Folk and the National Council of YMCAs, have strong local and regional structures which could be instrumental in establishing strategic partnerships.
National Council for Voluntary Youth Services