Neil has worked voluntarily with disadvantaged young people for over 30 years.
Project New Horizons
The number of young people in the UK not in employment, education or training is well over one million. For some young people, being NEET is a symptom of disadvantage in early life that can go on to limit future potential and happiness.
There is a fundamental deficit of opportunities and positive role models available for this group of disadvantaged and disaffected young people. This leaves them vulnerable to the temptations of drug and alcohol abuse, crime and gang related activities and other anti-social behaviour. Such vicious cycles of deprivation are difficult to break and impact not only the individual but their families and local communities.
Neil introduced and got two charities working together, the British Exploring Society and Catch22 to deliver a pioneering new programme aimed at changing the lives of some of the most marginalised young people in the UK. Project New Horizons takes up to 100 young people in the Care System and every year offers them an opportunity to improve their self-esteem, develop soft skills and increase their chances of employability.
The 6 month programme is delivered in three phases:
- Training and Development (UK based adventures camps)
- The Expedition (Overseas adventurous expedition)
- Work Experience (workshops and skills sessions)
The 2012 programme has seen young people transported to the Sinai desert in Egypt where they were taught to navigate by the stars, work with camels and survive in the harsh desert landscape, before making a 200km trek across the peninsula from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Gulf of Suez. They were supported by Neil (Chief Leader) and his team of adventure leaders, social workers, business mentors and assistant leaders (who were recruited from the previous year’s intake). They learned about their environment, the Bedouin culture and, most importantly, themselves.