Headlines: June 29th, 2005

Ministers from six departments have jointly launched an action plan ‘Together We Can’ to bring Government agencies and the public closer together in a drive to improve the quality of life. It will take Ministers out to the communities so they can hear people’s concerns and find out at first hand what they want. The initiative will involve central and local government, the health service and the voluntary sector. The essence of the plan is to give local people the capacity to influence and create change. It is described as the first step towards a significant shift in the balance of power between local communities and Central Government.The ‘Together We Can’ plan sets out the Government’s commitment to citizens, communities and public bodies working together to set and achieve common goals. It outlines eight key policy areas – Citizens and Democracy, Regeneration and Cohesion, Safety and Justice and Health and Sustainability. The plan will be carried out by twelve Government Departments to strengthen citizens’ engagement in delivering success across those policies. The 65 action points in the plan represent the start of this work.

In education the plan has a focus on alienated 16 to 17-year-olds who have dropped out of school or college. It recognises that when these young people are outside the world of work or skills, their lives can enter a downward spiral, as the only voices they hear are those leading them into a dark world of drugs, gangs and anti-social behaviour. The plan seeks to make positive role models available in the workplace to provide the path back into education and training for young people who would otherwise fall into a life of anti-social behaviour or drugs. The mentors would give leadership and direction needed to get back on the path to skills and better careers.