The Real Opportunities conference being held at Future Inn, Cardiff Bay, will celebrate the achievements of the £15m Regional SEN Transition to Employment project which supports young people with special educational needs, helping them, and their carers, to build a brighter future.
The project targets those with severe and complex needs, addressing the gap in support for 14-19 year olds who are making the transition between full-time education, adulthood and employment.
The conference will be chaired by Tomas Roberts - a young person who has benefited from the Bridgend hub of the project.
Amongst those taking part are, young people, carers and project staff who will share their experiences and achievements through presentations. There will also be display stands during a lunchtime ‘marketplace’ activity where they will be available to further discuss the impact the project has had on their own lives.
Led by Caerphilly County Borough Council alongside other local authorities in Bridgend, Carmarthenshire, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea, and Torfaen, the project is backed with £8.8m from the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government.
Addressing the conference, Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies AM said:
"Increasing participation in learning, volunteering and employment will not only help young people, and others in their lives, lead more fulfilling futures, but also enable them to play a valuable role in our communities. I am delighted that EU funding is helping to deliver further social and economic benefits for young people across the region."
Also speaking will be Dr Steve Beyer - the project’s external evaluator - who will provide feedback on findings so far, including early results showing that the project’s unique approach is having a positive impact on participants. Chris Burdett from the Welsh Government will also speak about Statutory Reform.
The project works collaboratively with a range of statutory and voluntary organisations, to provide tailored, individual support to help young people access social and learning, opportunities and lead a more independent life. It also works with employers within each region to raise awareness, provide work experience placements and paid employment.
Project Manager Angela Kenvyn said:
"This conference is aimed at celebrating the achievements of young people and their carers, showing the difference that can be made in their lives through agencies working together, taking a person centred approach and providing appropriate support. Our focus is on bringing down the barriers that prevent young people with severe and complex needs from participating in everyday activities and becoming more independent."