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Exclusion initiatives put themselves on the map

ANGELA GALLAGHER is one of the many young people who comprise the big picture of social exclusion and disadvantage in Scotland. For at least part of the time, her exclusion was self-inflicted.

She rarely attended secondary school and, after leaving, was unemployed for long periods. But while the 20-year-old Glaswegian was on a New Deal programme, she was steered towards a 12-week volunteer programme at North Glasgow College.

The course, organised by the college and the Prince's Trust Scotland, is due to finish soon and she hopes to embark on 14 weeks of work experience. Now, thanks to a survey on behalf of the Prince's Trust, it should be easier to identify young people like Angela even earlier and provide better opportunities for them.

The report of the survey's findings, Mapping Exclusion, claims to present the first complete picture of the barriers facing young Scots aged 14-25, analysing geographical variations across the country.

As expected, Glasgow has the highest proportion of housing benefit claimants and the highest level of exclusions and free meal entitlements. Other results may be more surprising.

* Stirling has the largest proportion (14.5 per cent) of Scotland's 770,066 14-25s.

* Aberdeen has the highest proportion of children on the child protection register.

* East Ayrshire has the second highest levels of youth crime.

* Dundee has the worst qualifications level, the highest rate of youth crime and the most teenage pregnancies.

* Rural Dumfries and Galloway is second in the teenage pregnancy "league" while tiny Clackmannanshire has the highest rate of unauthorised school absences.

Euan Davidson, director of the Prince's Trust Scotland, said that the report provides the first overall impression of what is happening in the lives of 750,000 young Scots. "The trust is passionate about turning untapped potential into real success and we hope that the findings will help streamline and considerably improve co-operation between agencies," Mr Davidson said.

Cathy Jamieson, Minister for Education and Young People, said the report had come at an important time because it coincides with the Scottish Executive's plans to raise the profile of youth issues and strengthen the youth dimension of community learning.

The Executive is currently working on a similar mapping exercise to find out whether provision is matched to demand in the right areas, Ms Jamieson announced.

The approach seems to be working for Angela Gallagher. When she finishes her 14 weeks of work experience, she wants to find secretarial work. Her road to inclusion seems well and truly "mapped".

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