The Acorn Initiative in Nottinghamshire is regarded as a model of how good youth work can help youngsters move into education, training and jobs. It was started in 1994 by Nottinghamshire's youth and community service to help disadvantaged young people in the stricken coalfield communities.
Today, the initiative works in 10 communities throughout the county. Youth workers start by building trusting relationships with youngsters who are excluded from school or have come through the criminal justice system.
A profile of each young person is built up, identifying the barriers holding them back. The scheme then works with the youngsters in grous, for example, taking them on residential and adventure courses aimed at building their confidence. They are also helped with socialising and life skills - in December a group was taken to a restaurant for Christmas dinner. And the initiative arranges "taster" experiences in college or the workplace, and introduces teenagers to careers advisers.
Further education colleges are closely involved in helping to plan youngsters' transition into education and training.
"We are trying also to help young people to understand their behaviour in the context of the world around them and their responsibilities," said spokesman Richard McKie.