Leaders of 13 charities call for government action to help vulnerable 16- and 17-year-olds who fall through the cracks between children’s and adults’ services

First Published – Sun 28 Apr 2019

Young woman with head in arms
‘One in five 16- and 17-year-olds face five or more vulnerabilities in their lives.’ Photograph: Alamy
On Tuesday representatives from 13 charities will be talking to MPs about our nation’s “unseen teens”. Hundreds of thousands of 16- and 17-year-olds are falling through the cracks between children’s and adults’ services – left without the support they need to overcome challenges in their lives and flourish as they move into adult life.

The Children’s Society’s campaign, Seriously Awkward, has revealed that one in five 16- and 17-year-olds face five or more vulnerabilities in their lives – such as mental ill health, poverty or inadequate housing. This amounts to 240,000 older teens in England alone. These challenges can put children’s health, safety and long-term outcomes at risk.

As these young people move into adulthood, too often they are let down by universal services such as education, by targeted and specialist services such as child protection, and by the complex youth justice and immigration systems.

The issues facing this group are diverse and complex, and no single government department or agency can take on this challenge by working alone. A solution to addressing multiple disadvantage in young people’s lives will require a coordinated response. We are asking the government to form a cross-departmental taskforce to improve support and transition planning for older teens.

By joining forces for this campaign, our charities hope to create a future where young people in Britain can have the best chances to succeed. We aim to inspire the government to work with us to better support teenagers as they begin their journey into adult life.

Nick Roseveare
Interim chief executive, The Children’s Society
Kadra Abdinasir
Strategic lead, Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition
James Kenrick
Chief executive, Youth Access