New name for Connexions Cumbria youth advice service

A leading Cumbrian youth work body has a new name and new look.

Connexions Cumbria yesterday was relaunched as Inspira – Inspiration for Life.

The change is being supported by a leading Government youth adviser and Europe’s largest union of school leaders.

Paul Oginsky, who is a youth policy adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, and Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, were keynote speakers at yesterday’s special event at Rheged, near Penrith.

Inspira – Inspiration for Life aims to reflect the expanding work of the organisation. It will continue its vital work offering information, advice and guidance to young people while looking to build upon its Next Step programme supporting adults.

The youth advice service is likely to retain the Connexions banner, which is highly regarded locally.

The company is also looking to develop new services to meet new and emerging demands, such as its success last summer when the organisation was one of the first in the country to run the government’s National Citizen Service.

The life-changing scheme gave hundreds of 16-year-olds after completing year 11 at school a chance of experiencing outdoor residentials and working on volunteering and community schemes.

More than 130 invited guests attended yesterday’s Inspira launch.

They included Wes Johnson, the new principal of Newton Rigg College; newly-appointed acting Chief Constable Stuart Hyde; Professor Peter Strike, vice-chancellor of the University of Cumbria; and councillor Duncan Fairbairn, the county council’s cabinet member responsible for schools and learning.

Inspira’s staff across Cumbria already work with a range of organisations including schools, training providers, businesses, councils, public sector bodies and charity or not-for-profit groups.

They provide confidential advice, guidance and personal development services in schools, colleges and Jobcentres and help young people and adults with support on a range of subjects from career choices to education on drug abuse, homelessness and teenage pregnancy.

Chief executive Mark Bowman said: “The new name ‘Inspira – Inspiration for Life’ reflects what we are about, inspiring young people, adults and communities to turn their dreams into reality. We will deliver more and provide better and bigger services to young people in Cumbria.

“This is an exciting time for us as we launch the new company name; ensuring we continue to be able to compete locally, regionally and nationally. We are in transition from our foundational roots as a grant-aided and regionally-based provider of careers guidance to a social enterprise company in Cumbria but delivering on a national stage.”

The change comes at a time of rising youth unemployment and a Government push to build a “Big Society”.

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Published Saturday 28 January 2012 in the News & Star