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Ahmed's first chance offers hope

REAL DEAL

AHMED AL HASAWI, 23, has lived in Centrepoint's Camberwell Foyer in south-east London for the past two years.

His story is an argument in favour of early interventio. Ahmed's mother died when he was very young and his father when he was 17. He was homeless, had no idea where to get advice and was referred to the foyer at Camberwell.

There was a New Deal "gateway" on site and he is now working in an Oxfam shop under the voluntary option that New Deal provides for young jobseekers.

Ahmed's dyslexia went undiagnosed until he came to the Foyer. He can't recall getting any careers advice at school and is now a strong believer that there is a strong case for early help.

"I had no idea what I wanted to do," he says. "I've only recently started getting myself on the right path. I've had a lot of support from the foyer and could have done with it a lot earlier."

Sarah Brennan of Centrepoint says the careers service is well placed to reach many teenagers, but tensions can arise. "It is difficult for a young person to trust someone who has jurisdiction over their benefits and has previously meant that the most vulnerable young people are the most likely to opt out and avoid the service - thus missing out."

Centrepoint was one of six partners involved in Real Deal.

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